JACKSON – Township officials recently approved a resolution settling litigation from the building of a private high school after a decade-long dispute.
The settlement will allow for the building of the Oros High School following a 10-year legal battle.
Resident Sheldon Hofstein questioned the council about details of the settlement. “Originally, it was the court okaying when the Zoning Board turned it down and the second suit was on related land use. Was it a monetary settlement and will the school be built?”
“Yes, and yes,” Council President Martin Flemming replied. He confirmed the settlement was both monetary and also allowed for permission to build the structure within Jackson.
The suit was filed in 2013. Hofstein asked if the school would be built per the same plans as originally presented. “That was a long time ago.”
“Yes, it was,” Flemming responded.
“It has nothing to do with the approval even though the court decided that the Zoning Board was correct in voting against it but they are getting it anyway because of the land use law,” Hofstein added.
Flemming said this involved the Zoning Board and that Township Attorney Gregory McGuckin doesn’t represent that panel.
McGuckin explained the original complaint was different from an amended complaint which alleged a violation of a federal statute and “that is what has been litigated since that time.
“As a result of the settlement there will be an agreement that will be available (to the public). It is a settlement but its venue was in the Superior Court.” McGuckin said he could not disclose the amount of the monetary settlement as he did not know it.
The Jackson Times reached out to the township for that figure and location site and was told that information could not be released for several weeks as it is still under the ‘deliberative exemption’ under Open Public Records Act (OPRA) law.
The Council also discussed a resolution concerning the vacation of a conservation easement on Herman Road. Flemming said this easement was on “a significantly impacted lot.”
Joe Krakowski of Mill Pond Road asked if a conservation easement could be moved.
Flemming explained that “this is from the Planning Board and a redesigned building. It has the same amount of room but just in a different configuration.”
The Planning Board had approved a warehouse at the site. However, they needed the council to sign off on a change in the location of the easement. Flemming said while each case is different “it depends on what the conservation is to. In this case the conservation easement is owned by the township. Some are held by non-profit entities, the State of New Jersey or Green Acres.”
During a December 12 Jackson Planning Board meeting, members gave unanimous approval to an application for the construction of a 154,700-square-foot warehouse at the intersection of West Commodore Boulevard and Patterson Road. The building will include some office space for use by the tenant.
In other news, council members spoke of historic property being preserved.
“If you were driving around on the western side of town you may have noticed the demolition of the old restaurant at Rova Farms and…you will see a pretty open space that we look forward to seeing a future park,” Councilman Steven Chisholm said.
Chisholm has not been shy in his criticism of Governor Phil Murphy who he has referred to as ‘King Phillip” during council meetings but he did commend him on his decision to allocate “$25 million to our revolutionary historic sites in anticipation for our 250 anniversaries of America. Finally, some money well spent.”
Councilwoman Samara O’Neill noted the approaching end of 2022 and as it was one of her last meetings she took the opportunity to “reach out and thank all my fellow councilmen. I appreciate all your patience and knowledge sharing and the staff…I appreciate you guys as well.”
She had been appointed to fill a vacancy but did not win the election to keep the spot.
“To our incomers I wish you all the very best and hope you can come on board with an open mind and open heart and listen to all residents throughout the community and enjoy every minute of it. To the residents out there thank you for this opportunity…and thank you for being present with all that has been going on. I’ve been giving back to the community for two decades and I will continue to do so,” O’Neill said.
She noted that the Jackson Food Pantry was looking for donations and additional volunteers “and there are a lot of different shelters that are also local that need some help.”