JACKSON – Zoning violations and increased utility costs dominated a recent Township Council meeting.
The Council voted to unanimously introduce an ordinance authorizing a lease agreement between Jackson and the Jackson Racing Association. Both ordinances will have a public hearing during the Council’s June 15 meeting.
Township officials approved an ordinance that financed police equipment $880,458 and the issuance of $836,035 in bonds and notes to finance a portion of that cost. No one came forward to speak from the public to comment.
Prayer House Complaint
Resident Sheldon Hofstein came to the podium during the public comment portion of the meeting to bring up “another violation of Jackson law,” which he said was on South Cooksbridge Road. He said it was a residence being used as a place of worship.
By law, anybody can hold a prayer meeting in their own home. What crosses the line is when it is used entirely as a house of worship.
“This can’t be considered a prayer meeting because the owner does not reside on the property. He lives in Brooklyn and he is letting people use the home,” he said.
“Is the township aware of this violation and if so, has any action been taken?” Hofstein asked the governing body.
Business Administrator Terence Wall said that while the address was not familiar to him, he would reach out to the relevant department and report back to the governing body.
“Its use there has started in the last few weeks and there was a van there today with workmen going in and out. Has any consideration been made for a cease and desist on the other properties that have been used (for the same purpose) or is that still up in the air?” the resident asked.
Hofstein was thanked for his input on the matter and was told there has been consideration in doing that and while details could not be made public, he would eventually see what action will be taken toward those cases.
“Hopefully, something is done soon before people refuse to take down what has already been done,” Hofstein added.
Gas Rate Hike
Council President Andrew Kern spoke about a resolution rejecting a request for a price increase by New Jersey Natural Gas “and their petition for a 25% customer rate increase to the Board of Public Utilities. Although NJ Natural Gas has run efficiently at a low cost for many years, there is absolutely no justification for a 25% rate increase for all the current NJ Natural Gas customers.
“This 25% is for future improvements that that is not going to help the existing customers and I don’t believe that is the right way to finance new projects,” Kern said.
Councilman Alex Sauickie said, “we are coming out of a pandemic. People have had a rough 18 months and this is probably not the right time to increase any expenses above what has already been increased in the last 12 months including tolls in this state.”
“With gas prices up about a dollar in the last four months I don’t think the residents need another increase in anything,” the councilman said.
Councilman Nino Borrelli echoed those sentiments saying, “this comes at the worse time when many people are trying to get up and running from this year-long pandemic and also it would adversely affect particularly our many seniors in our senior developments in our town.”
“It would drastically affect them. Hopefully, many other municipalities will join us as well in expressing their opposition to this big rate increase and putting on the back of rate payers for their projects. It is wrong,” Borrelli added. The resolution was unanimously approved.
New Zoning Board Member
In other business, the council voted to approve Victor Clairmont as an alternate member II of the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment. Councilman Alex Sauickie made the nomination which was unanimously approved.
Kern thanked Clairmont who was present at the meeting for volunteering “and for helping out the town.”
Agreements And Contracts
A shared services agreement between the municipality and the Jackson Township Board of Education was also approved that will provide two school resource officers for the school district for the 2021-2022 school year.
A contract agreement with T&M Associates Engineering firm for asbestos identification survey for the Rova Farms site in the amount of $900,650 was also passed by the Council.
The Council also voted to reject all bids received for tree pruning services in the township.