Jackson Zoning Board Debates Mikvah and EMS Building Proposals

In a recent meeting of the Jackson Zoning Board, discussions centered on the applications for constructing a Mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath, and an EMS building proposed by Hatzolah of Central Jersey. The applications, which require variances due to the nature of the constructions in the designated zones, prompted discussions regarding their inherently beneficial uses, community impact, and adherence to zoning ordinances. The Mikvah application was ultimately approved, while the application for the EMS building faced scrutiny and subsequent conditions for its usage.

The board first addressed the application for the construction of a Mikvah and an EMS building on block 19703 Lots one and two, located in an rg2 zone where such facilities are not permitted use, necessitating a use variance. The detailed proposal outlined plans for a two-story Mikvah building and a 1600 square feet EMS building, along with 23 proposed parking spaces. Discussions delved into the stormwater management plan, the sewer service’s potential capacity limits from the J2 MUA, and the impact of the proposed construction on the surrounding area. The need for specific language in the resolution regarding the installation of the sanitary sewer infrastructure was emphasized, highlighting the concerns over environmental and infrastructural impacts.

Architect Richard Tokarski presented the floor plans, explaining the layout, features, elevations, and signage for both the Mikvah and EMS buildings. The board probed details such as the height of the buildings and the functionality of spaces within, including a laundry room and storage for medical supplies. Scott Kennel from McDon and Ray Associates provided a traffic impact analysis. Additionally, the board explored the stormwater management system, building lighting, and the placement of the EMS building for optimal access.

A key aspect of the meeting was the testimony regarding the religious and community significance of the Mikvah and the operational details of the EMS building. The applicant’s representative highlighted the importance of the Mikvah in the Orthodox Jewish faith and the need for an EMS building to provide efficient emergency services to the community. The board’s inquiry extended to the ownership and operation of the Mikvah, the caretaker’s role, and the connection of the caretaker to the Mikvah building.

The discussion about the proposed EMS facility by Hatzolah of Central Jersey was notably thorough. The representative cited the donation of a new ambulance and the necessity of an indoor space to protect it from the elements. The board’s concerns included traffic safety, control of a nearby traffic light, and the level of training and licensing for the EMTs and paramedics. Questions on the operational specifics, such as the number of ambulances and the types of services provided, were raised, as well as the relationship between the EMS operation and any nearby houses of worship.

During the public session, speakers advocated for the Mikvah’s importance in maintaining a strong connection to faith, personal well-being, and marital intimacy. The testimony highlighted the facility’s transformative and rejuvenating experience for women and its role in promoting mental and physical well-being. In contrast, concerns about the EMS application were raised, questioning its necessity and its relation to the house of worship, as well as the lack of information concerning the nearest EMS location.

The board faced a complex decision regarding the inherently beneficial nature of the proposed uses, particularly the EMS building. The debate touched upon the “sea balancing test,” considering the public interest, detrimental effects, and imposition of reasonable conditions. The applicant argued that both the Mikvah and the EMS building would serve the public good, while board members and public participants voiced concerns and sought evidence of the benefits versus potential detriments.

In the end, the board voted to approve the Mikvah application, recognizing its importance to the community and its alignment with the master plan. The EMS application was met with a motion to deny based on the need for substantial evidence of its beneficial use. A subsequent motion to approve the EMS building was conditioned on its exclusive use for EMS purposes, which the board seconded and approved.

The meeting also addressed other zoning matters, including applications for various residential variances and an amended site plan approval for a condominium association’s dumpster enclosure. These items, although part of the meeting’s agenda, were secondary to the more discussions surrounding the Mikvah and EMS building applications.

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.
Michael Reina
Zoning Board Officials:
Lynne Bradley, Joseph Riccardi, Jeanine Kaunitz Fritch., Carl Book Jr, James Hurley, Robert Hudak, Greg Stafford-Smith, Shira Parnes, Moshe Heiman, Jeffrey Purpuro (Zoning Officer), Dawn D’Agostino (Zoning Board Clerk), Elizabeth Ramroop (Recording Secretary), Ryan Murphy (Attorney), Evan Hill (Engineer), Ernie Peters (Traffic Engineer)

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