Government

Fourth Major Lawsuit Filed Against Jackson Township, Claims Alleged Planning Board Bias

JACKSON-On Thursday, a fourth major lawsuit was filed against Jackson Township, this time in New Jersey’s Superior Court.  The plaintiff, EL at Jackson LLC, a developer representing the Jackson Parke subdivision has filed suit against Mayor Michael Reina, the Township Council, Jackson Planning Board and “Jane Does 1-20”.

The plaintiff claims Jackson Township and its employees violated the plaintiff’s right to due process before the township planning board which denied the company’s application to build homes in the township.  Additionally, EL at Jackson claims the township violated a court-ordered Affordable House Act lawsuit settlement, whose trial took place from 1999 through 2017.   In 2017, the court issued a judgment of compliance supporting the application.

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In 2019, the planning board approved the developer’s General Development Plan.  The planning board voted in April 2019 to approve the GDP by a vote of 5-3.   At the November 4, 2019 planning board meeting, the planning board affirmed that the project being proposed was a conforming application to the township’s zoning laws and no waivers were necessary to approve the project.

At that meeting, dozens of residents spoke out against the project.  The meeting room was packed with hundreds of residents who opposed building a small city within swamp-like wetlands of rural Jackson Township.  Councilman Ken Bressi likened the development to an island within the swamp.  The board voted to deny the application, months after approving the GDP.

The lawsuit claims the planning board, led then by Councilman Ken Bressi overstepped its jurisdictional boundaries in denying the application.  Unlike three other civil rights lawsuits filed against the board, this one is being filed in state court and is seeking builder’s remedy by the court.

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“A builder’s remedy lawsuit is a process created under the Mt. Laurel Doctrine which allows a developer to file a lawsuit when it believes a community is practicing exclusionary zoning or has not provided its fair share of affordable housing,” according to a definition located on the Montvale, NJ township website.

 

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