JACKSON, NJ – Last week, Jackson Township Councilman Marty Flemming hosted a $300 per head fundraiser at a golf course owned by Mordechai Eichorn, a Lakewood real estate agent. Eichorn is also the developer who is building the large Jackson Trails project on South Hope Chapel Road and two projects to build two large private Orthodox Jewish school campuses on Leesville Road.
Last week, we reported that Flemming spent a good part of the night sitting with Eichorn at the private event, held at Eichorn’s private golf course on South Hope Chapel Road, and the response from our readers was that Flemming has “sold out”.
We tried to contact Flemming through his mayoral campaign website, but he has yet to respond to our requests.
But, does Flemming meeting with a developer who is building three major projects in Jackson and others in the future mean there’s anything nefarious going on?
While residents would hope Flemming isn’t making deals with Eichorn in order to get the Jewish bloc vote in Jackson, it does present a conflict of interest for Flemming, who also sits on the Jackson Township planning board where Eichorn has an existing open application.
That conflict of interest became apparent when Flemming recused himself from the hearing last week. Flemming never said why he recused himself, but we later found out he had invited Eichorn to his political fundraiser.
Eichorn said he was at the fundraiser and did talk to Flemming, but said he wanted to meet the candidates and speak to them about their vision of the future of Jackson only, no specifics.
Again, this doesn’t at all mean Flemming has ‘sold out’ Jackson, but it puts the town in a precarious position as Flemming holds a legislative position as a councilman and a seat on the planning board.
Flemming will forever have to abstain from any township business involving Eichorn and his projects. He can’t vote yes, but more importantly, he can’t vote no.
More intriguing is days after meeting with Eichorn, Flemming announced publicly at a township meeting that he never said he would stop overdevelopment in Jackson if elected mayor.
Flemming has essentially compromised himself as an elected official in Jackson and with one of the town’s largest developers and as a sitting member of the planning board. While his role as a councilman is not as much of a conflict of interest, his role as a planning board member is a glaring conflict of interest.
Flemming’s meetings with Eichorn cast enough doubt that he can vote without prejudice in Eichorn’s future applications. It doesn’t look good for the town that just settled a million-dollar lawsuit with Eichorn over Jackson Trails.
In the end, it can’t be ruled at this time that Flemming did or didn’t ‘sell out’ Jackson, but one thing is certain, Flemming compromised himself and exposed himself as doing the same thing he claims his opponent Mayor Michael Reina is doing. After all, it’s an election and every vote matters, especially if there is a bloc vote on the table that could sway the election.
Unfortunately, Jackson residents won’t know the answer until after Flemming is elected.