JACKSON – Residents who objected to a development on their street in Jackson and filed legal action won a concession from a developer who plans to construct athletic fields, hotels, apartments and a multiple sclerosis research center on Route 537, near Anderson Road.
Developer Vito Cardinale of Cardinale Enterprises has approval to build the Jackson Crossing 2/Adventure Crossing project on a 75-acre site between Interstate 195 and Six Flags Great Adventure.
Large-scale projects such as Jackson Crossing 2/Adventure Crossing have a General Development Plan (GDP) which describes the general nature of what is being proposed. Specific elements of the project require a site plan at the time they are proposed.
In November 2017, the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment granted preliminary site plan approval to Cardinale’s application.
Residents who live near the development site filed a complaint in state Superior Court, Toms River, contesting aspects of the zoning board’s approval. The residents were represented by attorney Edward F. Liston Jr.
The parties reached a settlement during 2019 on an amended GDP and needed the zoning board to sign off on the agreement. The matter was before the board on Jan. 15.
Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, representing Cardinale Enterprises, explained that the GDP and the phases of development were unanimously approved by the board.
“Both of those approvals were appealed by the residents represented by Mr. Liston. As a result of that appeal we agreed to settle the litigation,” Alfieri said. “We eliminated any development on the eastern portion of the property, which is adjacent to Anderson Road.”
Planner Ian Borden, representing Cardinale Enterprises, said the amended GDP has a commercial building area of 548,854 square feet, compared to the original GDP which had a commercial building area of 878,854 square feet.
The number of hotel rooms will remain the same (416), as will the number of residential units (502), with 58 units designated as affordable housing. A proposed indoor sports stadium has been removed from the amended GDP.
Borden said recreation is a critical component of the project and he said the application provides substantial recreation.
“This is a significant commercial destination, the master plan describes it as such,” Borden said.
Borden said Monmouth County will maintain jurisdiction over Route 537, which is the boundary of Monmouth and Ocean counties.
A 39,000-square-foot, five-story structure identified as Building 21 is expected to include retail uses on the first floor, medical research space and 58 residential units for individuals who have special needs.
Cardinale, who lost his wife, Linda E. Cardinale, to multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2013, spoke candidly and passionately about that facility.
“My goal with this property is obviously to bring family entertainment and sport entertainment to Jackson, but my personal goal is to create an MS research center,” he said.
Cardinale said his goal is to partner with the Mayo Clinic and eradicate MS. In honor of his wife, Cardinale created the Linda E. Cardinale Multiple Sclerosis Center at CentraState Medical Center, Freehold Township.
“The center in Freehold Township is basically a maintenance program, giving treatment to (patients) … My goal is to end MS. It took my wife’s life and I certainly want an eye for an eye here,” Cardinale said.
He said a specific program will allow the family of a person who has MS and passes away to donate their loved one’s brain to the Jackson facility. Cardinale said he wants research to be conducted on lesions.
“When I was trying to save my wife’s life, I kept coming back to that question, why are we not researching lesions? Drug companies are not researching lesions. When you have 2.9 million people with MS around the world getting a shot for $1,000 a month, it is not really a customer they want to lose.
“My goal is to be the (Osama) bin Laden of the drug companies, I want them to hate me. I want to have my photograph in the conference rooms (of drug companies), all the companies that put out 17 MS drugs that basically just keep people alive. I watched my wife be tortured. I am going to end MS, that is my goal,” Cardinale said.
He said he has been accused of using the Jackson Crossing 2 development to personally gain.
“This development is being created and the revenues I create from it will be donated to the MS research center. Jackson, which has Six Flags Great Adventure as one of its greatest commercial assets, will hopefully be known for having the largest brain institute in the world.
“Remember that the lesion in the brain dies within 24 hours, so it is my goal to get that (individual’s) brain into the donor program,” Cardinale said.
He said he has met with the presidents of area hospitals and secured commitments to have an individual’s brain brought to the research center within an hour of their death.
“We obviously need state troopers. I do not believe I need a helipad. With the technology of drones today and the approval of the FAA with moving organs and medication first, I believe we will probably be working with drones,” Cardinale said.
In regard to the residential units in the building, Cardinale said he wants to put people who have MS in the facility.
“I saw the disease, I saw what it can do. So while scientists work in the research center, I want them to see what it looks like and what the disease really is. It is one thing to work in a lab, but it is another thing to go to (another) floor and see what the disease did. My scientists and my employees will be able to see exactly how MS affects people in that building,” he told the zoning board members.
Liston said the amended GDP that was approved by the zoning board that evening was consistent with the settlement the parties reached through negotiations.
Zoning board Chairman Carl Book Jr., Vice Chairman Steve Costanzo and board members Kathryn McIlhinney, Peter Maher, James Hurley, Jeanine Fritch and Scott Najarian voted “yes” on a motion to approve the amended GDP for Jackson Crossing 2/Adventure Crossing.