Community raises concerns about Jackson Parke residential development

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JACKSON – Residents have voiced their opposition to an application before the Jackson Planning Board that proposes the construction of 1,100 residential units between Perrineville Road and West Veterans Highway in the Cassville section of the municipality.

The applicant, Jackson Parke, is seeking approval on two applications.

One application proposes the construction of 551 single-family and multi-family units on a 226-acre north section off Perrineville Road. The north section would include 120 affordable housing units.

A second application proposes the construction of 549 single-family and multi-family units on a 129-acre south section off West Veterans Highway. The south section would include 100 affordable housing units.

The application for the north section of Jackson Parke was before the Planning Board on Oct. 21. No decision was reached that evening and the public hearing was carried to the board’s Nov. 4 meeting.

A significant portion of the Oct. 21 meeting was allotted for residents to speak about the application.

Resident Elenor Hannum said she wanted to make it clear the Jackson Parke application conforms to the zone where it is being proposed because the zone was changed in 2017 as the result of an affordable housing agreement which created a zone that was specifically designed for this project.

Hannum said soil that would be brought to the development site and testing for contaminants are concerns.

“The site of origin of the soil and the testing for contaminants that might be in that soil is a big concern because we are looking at about 77,000 yards of soil that is going to take about two years to bring in, and this is a very sensitive region with the tributaries that are flowing down,” she said.

Hannum said the applicant’s environmental study states that pesticide treatments will not be used. She asked how it can be verified that homeowners will not use pesticides or other fertilizers. She said pesticides could enter the ground water and affect endangered species in the area.

Attorney Jason R. Tuvel, who represents the applicant, said the applicant only has to comply with the environmental study.

Resident Sheldon Hofstein asked the Planning Board members to explain their vote when it comes time for a vote to be taken on the Jackson Parke application.

Resident Joseph Sullivan asked the board members to consider the ramifications of the project and how it could effect the environment.

“This project is too big and it is too much for the residents of Jackson to have to deal with. It is not in the best interest of this township that this project be approved,” Sullivan said.

Resident Richard Egan said, “I was on that property three times when I was a member of the Planning Board up until the middle of August. Three times I was on that property with a shovel and wherever I dug, guess what I found? Water.”

Egan asked questions about the proposed drainage system for the residential development and said, “I asked how much it was going to cost to maintain (the drainage system) by a homeowners association and I never got an answer. That tells me it is going to be very expensive and in time the homeowners association may say they do not want to pay for it anymore, so who is going to pay for this? Jackson is going to inherit this mess.”

Resident Steve DeMarzo said he walked the property with Egan and he referred to the land as a sponge.

“They are building on a sponge, on a swamp. … I just do not see this as a good project for the township. I do not see this as something that is going to benefit the township in any way, shape or form,” DeMarzo said.

Resident Jeff Nemeth has lived on Perrineville Road for 16 years and said he has opposed the Jackson Parke project for 12 years.

“I think a lot of people have a lot of reasonable doubt (about Jackson Parke) and each and every one of you (board members) have things you should be concerned with before any type of vote comes in,” Nemeth said.

Resident Jim Bezanson said the applicant should eliminate the proposed basements.

“Doing that would minimize the amount of soil coming in, the amount of trips coming in. It would minimize the change in topography, it would possibly reduce the damage to an environmentally sensitive area,” Bezanson said.

Bruce Spears owns property near the proposed development site and criticized the entire project, specifically the drainage, saying, “You are building on wetlands. Once you do this you are going to flood me out and everybody here. You are going to backdoor everybody.”

Spears said he would consider taking legal action in the matter.

Before the residents had an opportunity to make their comments, a representative of the applicant provided additional testimony.

Traffic engineer Nicholas Verderese said he has visited the site and the surrounding area numerous times. He said he has met with representatives of the Ocean County Planning Board in regard to the Jackson Parke application.

The applicant has proposed the construction of a connector road in the area to prevent truck traffic and construction traffic on Perrineville Road and on Cassville Road (Route 571). Specific aspects of the connector road, such as turning lanes, were discussed by Verderese and board members.

Verderese acknowledged that a significant amount of soil would be brought to the development site in Cassville by trucks during the construction phase. He said there could be 100 trucks in an eight-hour day during the soil operation portion of the development process.