JACKSON, NJ – The Jackson Township Planning Board voted to re-open the application of Jackson Parke, a major residential development that it had rejected in 2019 because of a Jackson Township Council Affordable Housing ordinance passed by the township council and signed into law by Mayor Michael Reina in 2017. Current councilman Barry Calogero was one of two no-votes on that matter. The other was by former Councilman Robert Nixon, who resigned from the elected body in November of 2019.
The board was forced to reevaluate their original rejection by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Marc Troncone who decided that the decision violated a legal settlement agreed to two years earlier by the township council and Mayor Michael Reina.
Board Chairman Robert Hudak admitted that the board’s denial was in fact a violation of the town’s settlement agreement signed into law in 2017.
Here’s what happened: Council Approves More Affordable Housing.
“The board does not want to be in a position to expose the municipality to significant overdevelopment,” Hudak said. “Nor does the board want to take the risk to lose its oversight rule.”
Hudak was referring to the possibility of either builder’s remedy ordered by the judge or for the judge to defer the project to state oversight, removing the Jackson Planning Board’s role in the matter.
“When this settlement was reached in 2017, the township and voted to include it, it did not appreciate the environmental conditions that the would have had to overcome,” Hudak said of the former council’s decision. At the time, Mayor Reina signed the bill into law instead of exercising his veto ability. Councilman Ken Bressi is the lone remaining councilman who voted yes to the ordinance signed into law by Reina.
“It was not up to me or the board as to why it remained,” Hudak said of the Jackson Parke project being included in the Mayor’s 2017 ordinance. “We’re in a position to now have to deal with that fact. The court order laid out a binary decision, to continue with the denial and take a further risk that a special master is appointed. So to protect some level of autonomy for the board as I just mentioned, it’s important to note to provide the condition of the connector road is not a case matter.”
Hudak added that the decision before the board does not express convenience or quality of life for residents. He said the board is requesting a connector road and permit process under a newly proposed ordinance that requires anyone bringing fill dirt into Jackson to get a permit to ensure traffic does not go through residential neighborhoods.
Robert Hudak requested the board revoke the previous denial and approve a preliminary site plan approval for Jackson Parke. The board voted unanimously and “reluctantly” yes, 9-0 to approve the measure.
The meeting was held virtually on Ring Central’s meeting service.