JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – When Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina and developer Vito Cardinale came up with a plan to save the troubled Adventure Crossing sports complex in town, they raised the eyebrows of many in surrounding towns.
After being sued and losing major components of his sports project, Cardinale hashed out plan B. Warehouses and apartment buildings. Neither was allowed under Jackson’s zoning laws at the site, so the Jackson Township council granted spot zoning by ordinance to the builder. The council unanimously approved the new zoning at the project once billed as a sports and entertainment destination and Reina rubber-stamped their approval.
That paved the way for Cardinale to build four-story apartment buildings and two massive commercial warehouses with nearly 2,000,000 square feet of space. The residents of Jackson were duped. They were bait and switched by Cardinale.
The residents of the surrounding towns of Freehold and Millstone, where Cardinale resides were also caught by surprise. They had no idea what was happening in the town next door. Some in the know came out to voice their opposition at the council meeting that rezoned the land, but it was too few and it wouldn’t have mattered. Reina and Cardinale, good friends in real life, had a plan and nothing was going to stop it.
Now, New Jersey State Senator Steve Sweeney wants to make sure it never happens again.
Sweeney has proposed a bill that would require local governments to tell adjoining towns about development applications.
“Growing worries about warehouse sprawl in New Jersey have prompted a bill that would require municipalities planning new warehouse construction to inform adjoining towns, which could have their concerns heard by an inter-municipal board,” Sweeney said.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is planning to introduce the bill on April 26 in response to a proliferation of warehouse projects around the state and to mounting opposition from communities who say the buildings will choke local roads with trucks and cars and destroy remaining rural enclaves.
“New Jersey is proud to be known as the Garden State, but we are at risk of becoming the warehouse state,” Sweeney said in a statement. “The rapid increase in the construction and operation of retail warehouses poses a threat to the preservation of farmland and open space. The impact of these large-scale projects extends to neighboring communities that can experience economic and environmental consequences that impact their quality of life.”