JACKSON – Zoning issues dominated a short general session of the council on Oct. 25 that saw the resignation of a zoning member and the introduction of two ordinances involving affordable housing regulations.
Larry Schuster, 49, was to have served as an alternate member of the zoning board. He would have taken the spot of Alexander Sauickie who moved up to replace Anthony Marano. Marano was removed by the council in early October.
Schuster resigned during the Oct. 25 meeting stating family and time constraints were the primary reasons but his remarks also included a response to those who had suggested he was involved in efforts to make zoning polices against the Orthodox Jewish population of the township.
“Things were taken out of context. At no time did we attack the Jewish community,” Schuster said during the meeting.
“I will walk out of this meeting with my head held high. At no time was I being anti-Semitic. I will return to the audience and kiss my Jewish wife,” Schuster said.
Several social media posts authored by Schuster came to light following his resignation. Those posts involved sharp criticism toward the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood and Jackson townships.
The social media posts were forwarded to council members and news organizations. Schuster has denied that he resigned from the board due to the content of those posts.
This marked the third loss of a zoning member in one month.
Council members unanimously voted to approve a resolution removing Anthony Marano, 29, who had been appointed in August, as a member of the zoning board during an Oct. 10 meeting. Marano faces assault and child pornography charges and remains lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a first appearance hearing according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Zoning Board accepted the resignation of Peter Kitay, 56, owner of County Line Construction, on Oct. 4. Kitay had been appointed to the board on Jan. 4. His seat was filled by Scott Najarian whose term on the board will end on June 30, 2019.
During the Oct. 10 council meeting councilman Scott Martin supported Schuster and Najarian describing both as caring about the well-being of the township. Martin also supported the idea of a background check for future applicants.
Councilman Barry Calogero suggested asking applicants if they ever had been convicted of a crime, previously filed for bankruptcy, if they have any municipal funds or judgments currently pending. He also recommended that future zoning board applicants should be asked if they had any conflicts of interest that would prevent them from voting impartially on an application.
In related news, an ordinance authorizing the dedication of a right-of-way to Ocean County for the purposes of a road and drainage facility construction/maintenance along a portion of Route 527 was approved by council during its second reading.
Two ordinances entitled “Land Use and Development Regulations” were introduced and involve low-cost housing and COAH regulations.
Calogero was among the council members who voted against both ordinances and said that he and his fellow council members would explain more fully why they had voted in the negative during the next council session when the ordinances come up for a second reading.