JACKSON – The proposed Jackson Trails development was essentially denied a second time by members of the Township’s Planning Board.
During a December 2 meeting the application, which calls for 367 homes and a house of worship on South Hope Chapel Road near Jackson’s border with Manchester Township, was not entertained.
It was initially rejected on October 7 in a 4-4 vote which meant the motion did not carry and preliminary site plan approval was not approved.
Planning Board Attorney Gregory McGuckin said “two members of the board voted “no” because of reasons that they wanted more time to review some information and to get information about certain issues. The meeting was going on until 11 o’clock and they didn’t want to feel rushed but the applicant insisted on a vote being taken that night and it was a 4-4 vote. In reviewing state law that meant it was not approved.”
McGuckin noted that the vote did not necessarily represent closure for the application and allowed for a motion by a member of the board to either deny or to continue the process at a future session.
This led to the applicant’s attorney, Salvatore Alfieri, requesting a reconsideration of the denial.
According to state law such a reconsideration can be requested in cases where it is believed mistakes were made that influenced decisions made by board members.
Chairman Joseph Riccardi, Michele Campbell, Township Councilman Ken Bressi and Leonard Haring Jr. each voted yes during the vote taken in October while Timothy Dolan, Martin Flemming, Township Administrator Terence Wall and Vice Chairman Robert Hudak voted no.
During the December 2 meeting when Board members were asked whether they wished to reconsider the application the board fell silent and no motion was made to take action, thus the application was considered denied.
McGuckin said that among the issues that two of the “no” voting board members brought up in October, included the close proximity of the site to the Joint Base. “They questioned if the language of the deed would have to be changed or if they (Joint Base) needed to have a say in this as they were not part of the hearing.”
“There was also the dating of the environmental impact statement which was ten years old and the applicant said that was an issue of the Pinelands Commission not the board,” McGuckin said.
The applicant maintains that there has been conflicting testimony during the hearing and that the application was in compliance with the township’s zoning regulations.
Members of the public and township officials voiced opposition to the project. The citizen group Rise Up Ocean County also opposed the application of Jackson Trails.
The Major Site Plan included 367 single family homes and a house of worship. The applicant’s engineer is Professional Design Services, LLC.
With this latest project rejection, the township could face litigation. McGuckin said while he couldn’t speak for the applicant he did say that a challenge by the applicant was possible. The next showdown between officials and Jackson Trails LLC could be before a judge, skipping the appeals process altogether.