JACKSON-An error on the part of Township Planning Board Attorney Gregory P. McGuckin has given the much-opposed Jackson Trails development a second wind tonight as the board is expected to continue hearing the application which was rejected back in October.
At that meeting, the 4-4 vote which represented the legal rejection of the application was given new life after planning board attorney McGuckin signaled for a vote for a second vote at tonight’s hearing. McGuckin’s faux pas opened the door for a barrage of legal filings by the applicant’s attorneys and engineer to attempt to address inconsistencies they felt were presented by the board and the township environmental commission during the hearing.
The error by McGuckin could put the town in between a rock and a hard place if the application is rejected again tonight. Throughout the hearing, McGuckin gave testimony that the application was in compliance with Jackson’s zoning laws and often discredited testimony given by township officials and the public. Now, should the board reject the plan, the township could be exposed to a lawsuit by the applicant after conflicting information between the board attorney and board members was given.
McGuckin also serves as an assemblyman in New Jersey’s 10th legislative district. He is also the transition leader for Toms River Mayor-Elect Maurice Hill.
The reprieve also gave the applicant sufficient time to rebuke a report issued by the environmental commission and dispute the legal eligibility of that report at the hearing. In the time since October, Jackson Trails has retained the legal counsel of Storzer and Associates, the same firm that is currently representing Agudath Israel of America in a federal bias lawsuit against the township.
Storzer will be representing Jackson Trails at tonight’s meeting to petition for approval based on a letter the firm delivered to the township last week, declaring that the project is fully compliant with township zoning laws.
If denied, the case will probably bypass the appeals process and land itself in federal court, the third such case against the township. A legal challenge is also expected by the applicant for Jackson Parke, a project denied by the planning board in February by Lennar Homes.
Today, Rise Up Ocean County who has opposed the application of Jackson Trails criticized Jackson Township Chamber of Commerce Vice President Clara Glory after she made a comment to members of the community to attend the board’s annual senior citizen fundraising dinner for the Jackson Food Pantry which was being held at the same time as the planning board meeting tonight. Glory has been a frequent target of Rise Up Ocean County as she also serves as the treasurer of the Jackson MUA and as the Jackson Township Chairwoman of the Ocean County Republican Committee.
The Jackson MUA is the main beneficiary of the Jackson Trails development. Once installed, water and sewer lines paid for by the project would allow the MUA to engage in a water deal with neighboring Manchester Township to boost that community’s near-capacity water system. The water line built down the entire length of South Hope Chapel Road would also fuel development projects along the road which would vastly increase the MUA’s customer base in a previously untapped part of the 100 square mile township.
This morning after the criticism, Glory announced that the Chamber of Commerce dinner has been rescheduled for Thursday, citing hazardous weather conditions expected tonight.