Jackson To Buy Land Proposed For Four Private Schools

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  JACKSON – Township Mayor Michael Reina recently announced that the township has negotiated successfully to acquire a 32-acre farm on Leesville Road, where a private developer is proposing to build four private schools.

  The parcel of land in question, located at 443 Leesville Road, is owned by Bellevue Estates, LLC. The owner’s application to construct four private schools at this location is currently before the Jackson Planning Board.

  “We have been successful in negotiating with the owners of this Leesville Road property with the intent of having the township acquire this parcel of land,” Mayor Reina said.

  “As details are being finalized with the landowners, no additional information is available at this time,” the mayor said this week. “My priority is to protect existing neighborhoods within Jackson Township and to protect and honor the rights of all Jackson residents.”

  Mayor Reina added, “we have found a way to achieve both outcomes with this agreement once it is finalized and approved.”

  Currently, testimony is set to resume at the Jackson Planning Board meeting of December 12 on an applicant’s proposal to construct the four private schools at that address. Bellevue Estates, LLC, is seeking approval from the township to build three private elementary schools, one private high school and a gymnasium at the property.

  The applicant is also seeking a preliminary and final major site plan approval and preliminary and final major subdivision approval of one lot into four lots.

  During last month’s Planning Board meeting, testimony was heard on the application by representatives of Bellevue Estates. They gave details on the plan for the four schools and residents had the opportunity to comment on it during a three-hour hearing.

  Attorney Donna Jennings represents Bellevue Estates. Doug Klee is the Planning Board’s engineer. Ernie Peters, the board’s planner said during the October meeting that schools are a permitted use in the township’s R-3 zone. This zone requires a minimum lot size of 3 acres.

  Peters noted there was no distinction between schools that were nonprofit public schools and private schools.

  The applicant’s planner, Ian Borden, explained that 443 Leesville Road is between Burke and Diamond roads while Quaker Hill Road is directly across from the proposed site for the four private schools.

  The project site is surrounded by residential uses on half-acre and 1-acre lots. Borden also noted that wetlands exist on the northern edge of the development site. He added they would be protected by a buffer zone.

  Borden said the individual lots created by the subdivision of the 32-acre tract would conform to the 3-acre zone requirement and that the applicant was proposing to widen Leesville Road in accordance with Ocean County standards. Leesville Road is a county road.

  Testimony provided by the applicant’s representatives suggested each school would operate on a private well and septic system.

  Klee expressed concerns over that noting, the potential “impact of (the wells and septic systems) on the adjoining properties’ septic systems and wells.”

  Jennings replied that the water and septic issues weren’t within the Planning Board’s authority and that the applicant would be required to obtain outside agency approvals, including approvals from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, for the application.

  The township’s purchase of the property may well alter plans for the site and further details from the mayor and administration are expected to be released in the weeks to come.