Check this page starting at 6pm to see live coverage and updates from tonight’s Jackson Township zoning board hearing of the application of a private school application to be built on Cross Street.
5:50 PM- Jackson Police Sgt. Christopher Parise just finished a safety and security briefing with police officers prior to the doors opening at 6pm. OEM is assisting JPD with security and safety at tonight’s meeting. The Jackson Twp Fire Official Frank McDonnell is also on site performing a safety inspection prior to the meeting.
6:20 – Auditorium about 1/3 capacity.
6pm – Meeting started. Board professionals being sworn in. Hearing of application to begin. Zoning board attorney Sean Gertner tells audience he was pleased with outcome at the last meeting and on the behavior of the audience. Mr. Gertner notified audience members that inappropriate behavior would not be tolerated and that Jackson Police are on scene to enforce order should it be necessary. Mr. Gertner also thanked the Jackson School Board for the use of the facility.
Attorney Ron Gasiorowski identified himself as a land use attorney representing and individual homeowner.
Mr. Gasiorowski’s introduction was met by applause and cheers. The zoning board reminded the audience to not applaud or break decorum.
Mr. Gasiorowski asked the board for a proper table to meet the accommodations provided to Mr. Shea and his professionals.
Two minute recess taken to make the changes.
Ian Borden of Professional Design Services, representing Boris Yakkov High School went through the exhibits, aerials and photos of the building.
Mr. Shea reminded the students of the school will not be allowed to drive to school.
Sheldon Hoffstein of the zoning board asked the applicant why they chose this parcel of land.
“The land we found here was at a much better price than we found in lakewood and we felt it was a better fit in our school. Land is at a premium in Lakewood,” said Rabbi Ephraim Birnbaum.
Mr. Borden said the buffer along the southern edge of the property was expanded from 20 feet to 25 feet and a six foot fence would be added but the buffer to the north would not be modified since it is adjacent to a commercial property. Borden explained supplemental landscaping was also added to the site plan since the October meeting.
Ron Gasiorowski is the attorney who represented a homeowner in the case against the filming of Snooki and JWOW on Pelican Island this summer.
Board member John Burrows is questioning why the applicant is reducing the number of spaces needed and asked what happens in the case when events occur at the school such as plays, performances, social organizations and other meetings. Mr. Borden said none of that will happen at the school.
Board member John Suttles questioned why the applicant requested an enclosure on the pool, saying the school will be closed in the summer. Mr. Borden replied that the school’s pool will be used for physical therapy. Suttles asked why is there a need for a pool, stating “It’s like buying a snow mobile in Arizona.”
Mr. Shea stated the school will not be used in the summer.
Dr. Hoffstein asked the applicant how to ensure the operation of the school, in particular, kids not driving would affect potential future owners or administrators at the school. Mr. Shea replied that the applicant would state that the driving restriction could be conditional based on the approval of the application and “not and idle promise made to get your approval.”
Shea addressed Mr. Burrows and said if he was not satisified with the truthfulness of the client’s testimony, to impose the full parking requirement on the application.
The board professionals and applicants are discussing septic issues with the application. The ‘residents’ of Jackson are being represented by Ron Gasiorowski, the attorney who represented Pelican Island residents against the filming of Snooki and JWow’s television show this past summer.
Mr. Gasiorowski questioned Mr. Borden’s credentials as being qualified in the field of expertise in the field of sanitation and environmental services. Mr. Borden said he has 30 years of experience in environmental services and has published reports with many state agencies.
Borden said he has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in 1982. Mr. Gasiorowski accepted Mr. Borden’s credentials.
Mr. Borden said the school’s sewage system is equivalent to 7 residential homes. He accepted that instead his proposal is 300% over what is accepted for the site and the application.
Borden is proposing a well of 500 feet in depth to address concerns that the well at the school would impact other residents. At this depth, Borden contends, the draw on water from a separate aquifer will not impact nearby residents.
Rabbi Birnbaum said Lakewood has 5 all girls schools and operates none of them. Birnbaum said there is not an accredited school in New Jersey and claimed no accreditation exists in New Jersey. He added graduation rate at his school is 100% and 97% of graduates go on to higher education.
Birnbaum said he has searched for a location in Brick, Howell, Lakewood and Jackson could not find a suitable site large enough for a high school. He said the Lakewood Industrial park is not a suitable location for his school.
John Burrows questioned the use of buses at the school and questioned whether or not all students will opt to use public transportation and is there any guarantee that alternative methods of transportation will be used or that smaller buses could be used.
“You have to allow that it can be a possibility in the future,” Mr. Shea stated.
Dr. Hoffstein asked the applicant if an emergency evacuation plan was considered in this proposal. William Stevens of Professional Design Services, representing the applicant, said the safety considerations would be made by the fire department and police department. He has not received a plan approval from the police department.
Dr. Hoffstein asked if fire sprinklers would be installed at the 400 student school, Mr. Stevens said no.
“The safety of the children would be jeopardized,” Hoffstein said. “The safety of the students should be considered.”
Mr. Shea said law does not require sprinklers. ”Laws are sometimes changed after something bad happens,” Dr. Hoffstein said.
Kathleen Flores, architect on the project said building codes dictate fire safety. Sprinkler systems are required at 25,000 square feet per floor and their project is 17,000 square feet per floor. ”We will not be exceeding and will be far less than what will be permitted,” she said.
Mr. Gasiorowski asked Ms. Torres if a building with a fire suppression system is safer than a building without. Torres responded, “Yes.”
“They have the right to build this building without the water suppression system.”
“The reason why we’re here this evening is that this applicant does not have the right to build this building before this board but is seeking relief before this building that he may,” Gasiorowski said. ”The applicant has taken a somewhat cavalier attitude towards this building to say he has the right to not build a water suppression unit.”
Gasiorowski reminded the applicant that the only right on that site is to build two single family homes. Flores responded, “Yes.”
“You’re seeking to build a building that will contain 400 people with no fire suppression system where it is allowed to only build two residential dwellings,” he added.
Gasiorowski cross examined the applicant’s professionals.
Public Session Opened
Jim Guldner a retired professional engineer disputed the applicant’s assessment on sewage, suggested a deed search to ensure there are no easements in perpetuity and said there was no absence of presence of wetlands by the DEP,
James Hayes a Galassi Court resident said Jackson Township should learn from the mistakes of Lakewood and that while the state mandates that schools are beneficial, but it also doesn’t mandate that the board votes yes on the application. Mr. Hayes also criticized the applicant’s school for promoting segregation. ”Segregation was demolished in the 60′s,” he said. ”We have schools that accommodate people’s differences. ”
Daniel Gross, a former Jackson School District board member said he feared that the construction of the school would lower surrounding property values and that parking should not be allowed on the street. He also questioned the purpose of the swimming pool and suggested it would be used for religious rituals.