Jackson zoners approve house of worship in Swanborne application


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JACKSON — The members of the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment have approved the final component of the Swanborne, LLC, application – a house of worship on South Hope Chapel Road.

The board’s 7-0 vote to grant preliminary and final site plan approval for the house of worship occurred during a meeting in the municipal building on Jan. 18.

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In December, the zoning board members granted subdivision approval for the Swanborne application and site plan approval for market rate homes and affordable housing on a 159-acre property that is bounded by East Veterans Highway (Route 528), South Hope Chapel Road (Route 547) and Whitesville Road (Route 527).

The residential portion of the Swanborne development will have 205 single-family homes to be sold at market rates and six multi-family buildings containing 48 residential units affordable to very low, low and moderate income families and individuals.

The final component of the application was the proposed two-story house of worship on South Hope Chapel Road.

In December, several aspects of the plan for the house of worship were a concern for board members, but those concerns were addressed when the applicant’s representatives returned on Jan. 18.

Attorney John A. Giunco represents the applicant.

During comments on Jan. 18, Giunco said that since the previous meeting, the size of the sanctuary had been reduced and therefore, parking spaces were no longer being proposed in the building’s front yard.

Parking spaces in the front yard – which would have required the granting of a variance – had been a concern for some of the board members.

Giunco said the application that was before the board on Jan. 18 was not requesting any variances from Jackson’s ordinances.

Traffic engineer John Rea said 136 parking spaces are required for the house of worship and 136 parking spaces will be provided.

One access to the house of the worship will be a right turn in, right turn out driveway from South Hope Chapel Road. Access will also be provided from an interior road to be constructed in the adjacent Swanborne residential development.

Rea said all of the access points will operate at acceptable levels of service. He said some congregants would be expected to walk to the house of worship from their homes in the development.

Planner Ian Borden said the sanctuary has been reduced to 6,800 square feet and confirmed that no variances related to parking were being requested. He said sidewalks would be installed on South Hope Chapel Road and on the interior road leading to and from the house of worship.

Borden noted there are no flood hazard areas in the planned development.

Architect Brian Flannery summed up the applicant’s presentation by noting the house of worship will have a basement, but he said activities in the basement “would not coincide with services. The basement will be used after services for refreshments and it will not have a kitchen.”

When the application was opened to public comment, Peter Kubacz asked about pedestrian traffic on South Hope Chapel Road.

Giunco said the plan for the house of worship must still be reviewed by Ocean County officials. The attorney said his client would comply with any requirements the county imposes, such as the installation of crosswalks and/or pedestrian signals on South Hope Chapel Road, which is a county road.

The zoning board members did not raise any issues about the plan following the testimony from Rea, Borden and Flannery.

“I commend the applicant on the changes it has made (to the plan). It now conforms” to what is required by municipal ordinances, board member James Hurley said.

A motion was made to grant preliminary and final site plan approval for the house of worship in the Swanborne application.

On a roll call vote, Chairman Scott Najarian, Vice Chairwoman Lynne Bradley, Carl Book Jr., Jeanine Fritch, Steve Costanzo, Joseph Riccardi and Hurley voted “yes.”

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