JACKSON – The Jackson Planning Board has granted preliminary and final major site plan approval for the south section of the Jackson Parke residential development.
The plan will see 549 single-family and multi-family residences, including 100 affordable housing units, constructed on a 129-acre tract off West Veterans Highway in the Cassville section of Jackson.
The applicant, EL at Jackson, LLC, is expected to construct 61 single-family homes, 144 apartments and 344 townhomes.
According to the application, 100 of the 144 apartments will be designated as affordable housing units. Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and/or families whose income meets certain guidelines.
The development will include a 6,100-square-foot clubhouse with recreational amenities that would include a pool and a tot lot.
Final approval was granted by the board on March 22. The application was opposed by a group of residents who called themselves Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods – Jackson and Manchester (CUPON). The residents were represented by attorney Ron Gasiorowski.
During his summation, Gasiorowski questioned the proposed use of a public right of way for parking in Jackson Parke South.
“How can you (board members) approve a project which takes that away from the site, takes away that use by the public? It limits it solely to those individuals who reside within this project.
“Why is it necessary when you could seemingly satisfy the parking requirements under your zoning by not having those additional 300 spaces which are treated by perpendicular parking?
“Why is that necessary and how does that impact how these units are going to be used? Will be they used in some instances for a unit … more than one family. What is the need for the additional parking?” he asked.
As he had done during other meetings, Gasiorowski raised the issue of a planned connector road between Jackson Parke’s north and south parcels.
The board’s previous approval of Jackson Parke North, off Perrineville Road, is expected to result in the construction of 551 residences on a 226-acre tract. Jackson Parke North was planned to include 120 affordable housing units.
“As far as trucks bringing in thousands of loads of fill (dirt) which would basically impact the surrounding area of this project, I would submit to this board respectfully that you must not only consider what you have before you on this second tract, Jackson Parke South, but also I would consider it in conjunction with it melding together with Jackson Parke North as well. This is one overall project,” Gasiorowski said.
Attorney Jason Tuvel, who represented the applicant, said the proposed residential development is precisely contemplated by Jackson’s Multi-Family Affordable Housing zone.
“(This is) a zone that was specifically created for this project. I am not going to go through the affordable housing history in detail, but this board is aware this property is part of the affordable housing plan, affordable housing agreements, and other court orders,” Tuvel said.
He said the Jackson Parke South application meets the requirements of the site plan and subdivision ordinances, and he said the application meets the conditions of the conditional use standards.
“The application complies with parking (standards), by far. The application complies with setbacks, with all of the landscaping requirements, with (site) coverage, height and density … so this is a variance-free application,” Tuvel said.
Since 2019, “We have had the ability to revise the plans on occasion to comply with the board professionals’ comments … I believe we have addressed nearly all the comments … for the Jackson Parke South application. However, to the extent there is anything outstanding, we would stipulate that we agree to comply with those comments,” the attorney said.
Tuvel continued his summation, stating, “With respect to CUPON, there was a lot of reluctance on behalf of CUPON to disclose the names of its members, donors, and even the addresses of the (group’s) board members.
“It took a while to even get the names of (CUPON’s) board members, it took months. CUPON also never provided, nor did anybody else from the public, any expert testimony, any documents, any exhibits to contradict any testimony that the applicant’s experts or fact witnesses provided,” Tuvel said.
Regarding environmental issues that were raised during the public hearing, Tuvel said, “This applicant was proactive with respect to the environment and has left no stone unturned. The applicant spent close to two years without even filing the application obtaining several prominent permits.”
He said a lot of what Gasiorowski discussed in his remarks was unfounded, specifically regarding perpendicular parking.
“I also want to object to anything regarding the Jackson Parke North application. This board should be looking at the Jackson Parke South application as it has all along,” Tuvel said.
Board member Timothy Dolan said he does not like the site or the impact of the Jackson Parke South application, “especially upon the residents, but it abides by the law and that is what we swore to do.”
Board member Michele Campbell said she commiserates with the residents, “especially those in the Perrineville Road and Prospertown Road area who enjoyed the rural nature of that environment. However, given the lack of variance requests, the ongoing processes regarding the county environmental reviews and our obligations, I will vote yes.”
Board member Jeffrey Riker, who chairs the Jackson Environmental Commission, agreed with the sentiments expressed by his fellow board members, but said, “I will note that as much of a challenge as it seems to be environmental, I would encourage the public to take note, stand up and start to attend the Environmental Commission meetings.
“There was no public in attendance at Environmental Commission (meetings) for this portion of the project. That is your time. That is your moment. That is when the people need to speak and unfortunately, there was no one there other than members of the commission to assist.
“With that being said, I have looked at this, it is the best possible outcome with months of work, months of nights of testimony, and I will vote yes,” Riker said.
Board member Andrew Jozwicki said he agreed with the statements of his fellow board members and would “reluctantly” vote yes.
A motion was made to approve the Jackson Parke South application. Board Chairman Robert Hudak, Vice Chairman Leonard Haring Jr., Township Councilman Martin Flemming, Jackson Business Administrator Terence Wall, Joseph Riccardi, Dolan, Campbell, Riker and Jozwicki voted “yes.”