Jackson Council Approves School Site Plan Amid Traffic, Safety Concerns

At the recent Jackson Town Council meeting, members discussed and ultimately approved a plan for a 13,000 square foot, 140-student private school, generating community concern over potential traffic, safety, and environmental impacts. The approval came despite numerous questions about the project’s effects on local infrastructure, including fire safety, emergency vehicle access, and traffic flow. Furthermore, a separate application for a 6,340 square foot contractor’s office and warehouse space was also scrutinized, with the council carefully considering the need for variances and the project’s influence on the surrounding area.

The council’s decision to approve the private school resulted from extensive deliberations over the proposed change from a previously approved house of worship to a school setup. Although the applicant’s attorney, Donna Jennings, stated that the new plan required no variances and no substantial revisions to the already approved site plan, board members and residents voiced concerns about the impact on local traffic, the design of the septic system, and drainage issues. The applicant provided details about the school’s operation, including the number of students, staff, hours of operation, transportation plans, curriculum, and food service logistics.

The discussion on the school plan was multifaceted, with specific attention paid to safety measures, including the possibility of integrating the school’s security system with the Police Department for enhanced monitoring. Despite concerns about the lack of indoor physical activities, the applicant assured that outdoor activities and off-site trips would accommodate students’ physical education needs.

Safety discussions were not limited to the new school but also encompassed the high school, where the need for a security guard was debated. In a bid to improve safety, suggestions included designated areas for student congregation and the installation of fences in certain areas.

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The council also evaluated a site plan presented by the site engineer, Patrick Ward, which detailed the property’s layout, surrounding area, and the proposed construction, largely unchanged from the previous application for a church. Concerns were raised about grading, drainage, and the impact on surrounding residential neighborhoods, with particular emphasis on fire access and the proposed septic system.

The meeting’s focus shifted to fire safety and traffic impact concerns, debating the need for a sprinkler system and adequate water supply for firefighting purposes, widening of the site entrance, and the extension of the shoulder to alleviate traffic safety concerns. However, there were questions about left turns into the site driveway and the need for curbing and sidewalks along the road. The council also discussed the necessity for County approval for the proposed changes, with the status of the County application for the school still unclear.

Residents expressed concerns during the public comments section about the school’s potential impact on traffic, with specific fears about road congestion. Questions were also raised about after-hours security, the necessity of a grass or hedge buffer on the property, and the procedures for emergency evacuations. The applicant’s engineer responded to questions about the environmental impact, explaining that one well and one septic system would be proposed for the 17-acre property, requiring external agency review and approval.

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Additionally, the council addressed an application for a contractor’s office and warehouse, requiring a variance for a deficient side yard setback. The board accepted the credentials of the applicant’s engineer, who plans for the proposed property and discussed shared infrastructure, access points, and the need for proper jurisdiction.

The meeting also featured discussions on the proposed contractor warehouse’s aesthetic design and impact. The architect presented colored renderings of the proposed building, while a traffic engineer summarized the traffic impact study. Concerns about the visibility of loading docks from certain angles and the potential influence on the surrounding community were raised, with the council giving due consideration to architectural aesthetics and traffic impact.

The council addressed the necessity for individuals to provide their physical addresses when giving testimony, as required by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, which sparked a debate on the appropriateness of such disclosures. Moreover, the meeting covered concerns about the proposed educational facility’s impact on traffic, the environment, endangered species, the need for conservation easements, and the project’s timeline for approvals.

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Procedural matters, including the acceptance of credentials, technical issues with exhibits, and confusion around voting procedures, also punctuated the meeting. The council navigated these issues, ultimately approving the applications with stipulations for safety features and adherence to town regulations.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Michael Reina
City Council Officials:
Jennifer Kuhn, Scott Sargent, Nino Borrelli, Mordechai Burnstein, Stephen Chisholm Jr

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