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Jackson application for housing, house of worship due back before zoners

JACKSON — Testimony regarding an applicant’s plan to construct market rate single-family homes, affordable housing rental apartments and a house of worship on a 159-acre parcel is scheduled to resume during the Oct. 5 meeting of the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The Swanborne, LLC, application, was most recently heard on June 15 and Sept. 7. In one form or another the application dates back to 2006 or 2007, according to professionals who represent the applicant.

The Oct. 5 meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the main meeting room at the Jackson municipal building.

Swanborne, LLC, which is represented by attorney John Giunco, is seeking preliminary and final major subdivision approval and preliminary and final major site plan approval for a project it proposes on a property bounded by East Veterans Highway (Route 528) to the north, South Hope Chapel Road (Route 547) to the east and Whitesville Road (Route 527) to the south and west.

According to the applicant’s representatives, the application proposes to subdivide the property to permit the construction of a residential development with 253 units, including 205 single-family homes to be sold at market rates; a lot for the construction of six buildings containing rental units that would be affordable to very low, low and moderate income families and individuals (the number of rental units remains under discussion and may be 42 or 48); and a lot for the construction of a two-story house of worship.

The house of worship’s statement of operations, as read during the Sept. 7 meeting, describes that services associated with Judaism, including bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, will be conducted in the proposed building.

The property slated for development is in Jackson’s Regional Growth 2 zone and the proposed uses are conditionally permitted in that zone. The development would be served by public water and sewer utilities.

Swanborne, LLC, is seeking conditional use variance relief to permit the affordable housing buildings to have as many as eight units per building, where a local ordinance permits a maximum of four units per building.

During the Sept. 7 meeting, planner Ian Borden, engineer Graham MacFarlane and architect Brian Flannery continued to present details regarding various aspects of the project.

Borden’s testimony included the following information:

• The property the applicant is seeking to develop is the former Maple Lakes campground. Lakes on the site were created as part of the campground many years ago;

• The house of worship will be owned by a private entity. All of the housing at the site will be part of a homeowners association. The house of worship will not be part of the HOA. One entity will own the affordable housing buildings and rent apartments to tenants;

• Residents of the market rate homes and the affordable housing apartments will have access to an outdoor recreation area that would include a basketball court, a toddler play area and a play structure, and a nature trail;

In response to a discussion that arose during the meeting, the zoning board’s attorney, Sean Gertner, said a connection cannot be made between the ultimate renters of the affordable housing units with any users of the house of worship. He said the affordable units have their own eligibility requirements.

MacFarlane’s testimony included the following information:

• The project design complies with Jackson’s ordinances, specifically with 30-foot-wide streets, plus curbs and sidewalks;

• Infiltration and detention basins that comprise the storm water management system will be owned by the HOA. A sewage pump station is proposed at the site. The project requires approvals from the Jackson Township Municipal Utilities Authority, the Ocean County Utilities Authority and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

During his testimony, Flannery discussed details of the affordable housing buildings. As presently designed, each apartment does not have designated storage space for items such as bicycles and toys.

The zoning board members asked for consideration to be given to providing space for those items. Flannery acknowledged that was a valid comment and said he would have an answer the next time he addresses the board.

The application was opened to public comment and the zoning board members and the applicant’s representatives heard from several residents.

Resident Cindy Zanki said her driveway is across from what would be an access point at the proposed residential development and stated that “East Veterans Highway is a nightmare. We cannot get out of our driveway as it is. … There will be more pollution, more noise, more traffic. … My hardship is going to be getting out of my driveway. With all of this construction, we are turning into a city.”

Zanki expressed concern local wildlife would be impacted by the development and she suggested the apartments could be home to transient residents which might create an increase in crime.

Resident Edward Bannon said, “Why do we need another house of worship here?”

In response to Bannon’s comment, Gertner, the zoning board’s attorney, said the applicant has the right to make the proposal, and Giunco, the applicant’s attorney, said there are no rules which state a particular religion has to be in a single location.

Resident Anne Marie Kubacz said, “We are horrified at the scope of this development. We can’t get out of our driveway. This is just cramming more houses in.”

Other information about the residential development, as previously presented, indicated the minimum lot size for a single-family home is 10,000 square feet (approximately a quarter-acre). Some of the homes could have as many as eight bedrooms.

The affordable housing apartments, if 48 units are constructed, would consist of 12 two-bedroom apartments and 36 three-bedroom apartments, all with parking spaces provided.

The house of worship, with access from South Hope Chapel Road, is proposed to be constructed on a 5-acre lot and its 35-foot height complies with the local ordinance, according to Borden.

No decision regarding the Swanborne, LLC, application was reached by the zoning board members on Sept. 7. The application was carried to the board’s Oct. 5 meeting. The meeting will be held in person and live-streamed on Jackson’s YouTube channel.

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