Government

Jackson Zoning Board Re-approves 502 Apartments at ACUSA; New Ordinance Could Pave the Way for Hundreds More

JACKSON-The town council will vote on a zoning change to clear the way for even more apartment buildings in a now-vacated portion of the project called Adventure Crossing USA (ACUSA).

ACUSA, which is building a state of the art sports dome, turf fields for sports, hotels, restaurants and more is awaiting a pre-approval by the Jackson Township Council to build even more apartment units in addition to the 676 previously approved apartments in the project.

Related: Who is Frank Holman and why is he trying to negotiate settlements in Jackson Township?

According to testimony given by Sal Alfieri, the lawyer representing ACUSA, a recent lawsuit settlement has brought the project back to the drawing board.  Initially, the project was to include a stadium, golf course, and an indoor winter-wonderland recreational space.   As a result of that lawsuit, ACUSA abandoned their request for those three amenities but were forced to abandon the larger parcel of land to the north of the project, for now.

Alfieri was the lawyer who represented the recently defeated Jackson Trails application last fall.

The new site plan shows that ACUSA will continue to host a recreational sports dome, indoor recreational building two hotels, restaurants, and an MS research facility that, according to ACUSA engineer, Ian Borden, will include housing for patients.    That research facility

That is the extent of what makes ACUSA a great addition to the township.

On the underbelly of ACUSA is the approval of 502 apartments spread out over multiple three and four-story buildings, in addition to the 174 special needs apartments to be built within the medical research facility.

To make matters worse, the town council is poised to pass an ordinance to change the zoning on the existing vacant lot to allow for even more high density residential and commercial development.  That ordinance would allow ACUSA to bypass the township’s zoning board for review and allow it to submit a new application before the planning board instead, which would be in total compliance with the town’s new zoning, should the council pass this resolution.

Below is an excerpt from the January 15th zoning board meeting.

Mr. Borden went through each building starting with Building 1 which will be the recreation air doam, building 2 will be the indoor
recreational area, buildings 3 & 4 are the purposed hotels, building 5‐8, 10 & 11 are the fast food locations, building 9 is a purposed
fueling station, and building 12 is a purposed restaurant. Mr. Borden continued with building 13‐14 which will also be for fast food, and
buildings 16‐18 are mixed use commercial with residential above, building 20 is another hotel, building 21 is the medical research
facility, a big portion of this project is to help with a MS research, and the facility will also provide housing for MS patients, building 22‐
26 are apartment buildings, which remain the same as approved, and the rear has buildings 27‐34 which are apartment buildings that
were originally approved and have been relocated. Building 35 in the retail building which has also been relocated. Mr. Borden stated
the GDP ordinance has 14 items that need to be addressed, starting with 1 comment which was made to make sure the building areas
would be addressed. Mr. Borden went through the building areas; Building 1: 161,663 SF, Building 2: 112,936 SF which is hotel 3 which
will have 134 rooms, and a banquet hall consisting of 9,919 SF, building 4: will be 142 rooms, building 5: the fueling station is 6,000SF,
building 6‐8: the fast food locations will be 4,500 SF each, building 9: 4,000 SF, building 10: 8,076 SF, building 11: 10,200 SF in phase.
Which will not be changed. Mr. Borden stated with regards to the GDP buildings 12 & 13 will be 2,700 SF each, the mixed use plaza
consisting of buildings 14‐17 will have retail on the first and apartments above will be a total square footage of 52,800 SF, building 18
will contain 140 rooms, the mixed building with retail is 39,680 SF, the medical building will have multiple floors, and 174 special needs
apartments related to the medical building. The retail component will be 85,000 SF, and the apartment total is 502 units, and that is
consistent with the approval granted in 2019, and 58 of those units are affordable, and the total square footage is approximately
548,854’ with the changes, the stadium has been eliminated, and the 416 rooms for the hotels remains unchanged, along with the
apartment count, they have just been relocated.

The complete zoning board transcript is below.

2. Adventure Crossing, Block 3001, Lot 1, 2, 3, 4, Monmouth Road – Sal Alfieri- attorney for the application, sitting with Robert
Gasiorowski. Also present Edward Liston- homeowner’s plaintiff’s attorney. Mr. Alfieri stated this project was approved with phases,
and the first phase was approved years ago, along with the revised phase one, which was approved as well, and a separate application
was submitted for the balance of the property, which was also approved. The GDP and the phase 1 approval was appealed, and the
settlement agreement was signed, and essentially the agreement was for an amended GDP. Mr. Gertner noted this settlement is not a
remand, it is a new application. Mr. Alfieri stated the information is being presented as a new application, and for those not familiar,
the general development plan or “GDP” is an idea, and if approved the zone is locked in, and if purchased, the application would come
back with a site plan. The application being presented tonight is to seek an amended GDP approval. Mr. Alfieri mentioned that Exhibit
A‐6 dated January 15, 2020 is the signed agreement between Mr. Listen’s offices.
Ian Borden- president of PDS, a graduate of Rutgers, and a licensed professional planner in New Jersey- sworn- credentials acceptedMr. Alfieri asked Mr. Borden to introduce the exhibits as there are a few. Mr. Borden presented Exhibit A‐1, and aerial depicting the
property, Exhibit A‐2 the GDP sheet 3 or 10 dated 10/31/18, and noted the original plan approved by the Board previously, Exhibit A‐3
the GDP settlement plan, which was based on the overall development plan and is sheet 1 of 1 which is new, Exhibit A‐4, the D‐1 use
variance Exhibit as purposed this evening, Exhibit A‐5 the D‐6 height variance showing the new purposed GDP.
Mr. Borden explained that Exhibit A‐1 is the Ariel showing the entire property, and the boundary is marked, and the GDP purposed is
on Block 3001, and lots 1‐4, 5, 6, 19, 20 were part of the GDP that was originally approved, and the changes being presented shows
those lots will be removed from any development. North and adjacent of the site is Monmouth road and Route 195, which is a county
major arterial road, adjacent is also the Six Flags and the Hurricane Harbor lot, and there is forest lands that are undisturbed which are
owned by Six Flags and the Town. Along Anderson road there are residential houses, and to the north side of route 537 is commercial
use. There are original approvals, and Exhibit A‐2 shows the overall plan that was approved in January 2019, which did include lots 5,
6, 19 & 20, and that did include mix uses which are no longer relevant as it has been changed. Exhibit A‐3 shows the proposed GDP on
lots 1‐4, and lots 5, 6, 19, 20 are shown however they are vacant, and phase 1 was granted a preliminary and final site plan approval,
Jackson Township Board of Adjustment Meeting of January 15, 2020 Page 3 of 6
and that approval stands alone. Mr. Alfieri mentioned that the phase 1 approval was also part of the appeal, and if this is approved, the
appeal for phase 1 will be withdrawn. Mr. Gertner advised the focus will be on testimony related to the GDP because should the new
GDP be approved, the phase 1 approval stands alone and in any event as per Mr. Borden, any appeal towards phase 1 would be
withdrawn. Mr. Borden showed Exhibit A‐2 the GDP of the previous approval, and mentioned that the uses should be gone over to
show the changes. The uses that were on lots 5, 6, 19, 20 were as followed: a convention center, winter wonderland indoor recreation,
a retail store, golf course, 192 residential units which have all been removed. The retail portion and apartments have been relocated,
the area coverage for lots 1‐4 went from 283 to 210, and the 4 uses have been eliminated, the stadium, golf course, and winter
wonderland. Mr. Alfieri asked that the phases be gone through. Mr. Borden stated phase 1 consists of 9 pad buildings, a convenience
store, fast food location, a large recreation facility/ sports bar, 2 hotels, an indoor and outdoor recreational facility which remains
unchanged. Mr. Maher asked what is going to be indoor. Mr. Borden advised the use has not been defined yet however it will be
indoor recreational, however the tenant will be responsible for assigning the activity. Mr. Hurley asked if the reason it’s before the
Board is because it needed a variance, and asked if all other applications pertaining to this site will have to go to the Planning Board.
Mr. Alfieri stated that under this zoning, this Board takes jurisdiction. Mr. Borden mentioned that this property is in the HC‐zone, and
the uses are fairly highway commercial uses, and on Exhibit A‐3 the GDP summary shows, and all buildings have been numbered. Mr.
Borden went through each building starting with Building 1 which will be the recreation air doam, building 2 will be the indoor
recreational area, buildings 3 & 4 are the purposed hotels, building 5‐8, 10 & 11 are the fast food locations, building 9 is a purposed
fueling station, and building 12 is a purposed restaurant. Mr. Borden continued with building 13‐14 which will also be for fast food, and
buildings 16‐18 are mixed use commercial with residential above, building 20 is another hotel, building 21 is the medical research
facility, a big portion of this project is to help with a MS research, and the facility will also provide housing for MS patients, building 22‐
26 are apartment buildings, which remain the same as approved, and the rear has buildings 27‐34 which are apartment buildings that
were originally approved and have been relocated. Building 35 in the retail building which has also been relocated. Mr. Borden stated
the GDP ordinance has 14 items that need to be addressed, starting with 1 comment which was made to make sure the building areas
would be addressed. Mr. Borden went through the building areas; Building 1: 161,663 SF, Building 2: 112,936 SF which is hotel 3 which
will have 134 rooms, and a banquet hall consisting of 9,919 SF, building 4: will be 142 rooms, building 5: the fueling station is 6,000SF,
building 6‐8: the fast food locations will be 4,500 SF each, building 9: 4,000 SF, building 10: 8,076 SF, building 11: 10,200 SF in phase.
Which will not be changed. Mr. Borden stated with regards to the GDP buildings 12 & 13 will be 2,700 SF each, the mixed use plaza
consisting of buildings 14‐17 will have retail on the first and apartments above will be a total square footage of 52,800 SF, building 18
will contain 140 rooms, the mixed building with retail is 39,680 SF, the medical building will have multiple floors, and 174 special needs
apartments related to the medical building. The retail component will be 85,000 SF, and the apartment total is 502 units, and that is
consistent with the approval granted in 2019, and 58 of those units are affordable, and the total square footage is approximately
548,854’ with the changes, the stadium has been eliminated, and the 416 rooms for the hotels remains unchanged, along with the
apartment count, they have just been relocated.
Mr. Borden stated that section 29B‐244, is the general land use plan which was described, and commercial uses are proposed in over
85% of this site, and 15% site area will be apartments and they do require a D‐1 use variance. With regards to the nonresidential uses,
the nonresidential uses occupy 85% of the developmental tract, and the layout does purpose 4,300 parking spaces, and the sizes and
specific numbers will be completed during the site plan, and regarding the circulation plan, sheet 4 of the GDP plan is the circulation
plan, and this gets into why a GDP is appropriate for this site, and this is the county boundary. Mr. Gertner asked Mr. Borden to speak
as to where the Monmouth County joursediction is. Mr. Borden stated that Monmouth Road is the boundary between Ocean and
Monmouth county, and it was determined that one of the 2 agencies would be responsible for the up keep of the roads. Mr. Alfieri
asked if this has to go before both Boards. Mr. Borden mentioned that Monmouth Road used to be a 2 lane country road, and is now a
4 lane roadway, and a master plan was done on the road to determine where the jug handles should be, along with a roadway design
which was done as well. The intersection by the 195 ramp, and the west bound traffic is not permitted to turn left into the site, and the
site would have to be accessed through a jug handle, and there are also surfaced roads, and the elimination to Monmouth road was
requested, and these uses are connected for the access reasons. Mr. Borden mentioned that sheet 6 shows the open space plan, and
wetlands letters have been issued to the DEP, and the wetland lines, and buffers are firm lines that were approved by the DEP, and
there is no development being done on the wetland areas, and there is 53.3 acres of open space required, where 92.7 is proposed, and
while recreation is not a standard in the open space ordinance, there is significant recreational activities on site. There are no buffers
to residential roads, and a c variance is being requested for no buffer, this is a significant commercial location, and adding a 50’ buffer
does not fit with the commercial aspect. The JTMUA owns and operates the water, and this will be public water and sewer, and on
Anderson road there is a force main that Six Flags constructed, and the pump station is proposed to connect to that main, and the
JTMUA will extend a water main through the site which was a major capital improvement, and a storm water management plan is set,
and is necessary to comply. The environmental inventory is shown on sheet 5, and PDS has inventory of the soil and vegetation, and
the wetlands have been eliminated, there are no steep slopes and there is no development provided near the wetlands buffers and an
EIS has been submitted. Mr. Borden stated the community facility plan is shown on sheet 2 in chart form, and the housing plan is
shown on sheet 2 and 10 in partial is the affordable housing plan, and there is some in the mixed use buildings and some are stand
alone, 90 affordable units will be provided. It is required to provide a fiscal report, and that has been included in the second portion of
the EIS‐ and this project will not utilize the Township for maintenance, and was created based upon the 2018 tax data, and the review
of 2019, and the school system from Rutgers, the annual cost was used and allocated costs to the Township, and the surplus revenue
going towards the Township is $500,000 per year, and to the schools would be $1.5 mil surplus, $40,000 to the open space fund, and
$26,000 to the ocean county open space fund, lastly this will generate more than 1,000 jobs. Mr. Book asked if the surplus figures are
from when this is fully built and fully operational. Mr. Borden mentioned this project is requesting a 20 year approval, and the first
phase is what has been approved as a site plan, and that is including 327 approximately feet. Ms. McIlhinney asked if the eastern
portion of the site will have any open space. Mr. Borden stated no. Ms. McIlhinney asked if the right is will remain abandoned. Mr.
Alfieri stated that is only being abandoned for now. Mr. Borden mentioned that there are 7 items that need to be addresses; .1.
proposing a plan development‐ this site is proposing 85% commercial uses, and the master plan specifically speaks to this site being
different, and the master plan encourages this use, and there are overlay zones that allow mix uses, and the density being pursued is
much less than what is normally complete, 2. Over 35% open space, and this is proposed to have diverse sets of indoor and outdoor
recreational spaces, and this fully complies with the DEP. 3. The light air and open space, the total building coverage is less than 10%
and in this zone it has a maximum required of 35%, 4. This is zoned HC where 35% building coverage is required, and 75% pervious,
and this site is purposing a significantly lesser amount than that, 5. This project is asking for 20 year approval, and there are only 2
phases however there could be more. 6. There are no steep slopes, 7. All items are being addressed, there is also a purposed public
bus stop. Mr. Alfieri stated there is an agreement with six flags to use the stop as well. Mr. Borden mentioned there will be an internal
busing system, there is also affordable housing in addition to the special needs housing.
Jackson Township Board of Adjustment Meeting of January 15, 2020 Page 4 of 6
Mr. Book announced that this application will probably take the Board to 10:30 p.m., and it is unlikely that application 3. Renee
Bogart/ Glenn Knowles, Block 18502, Lot 55, 485 Toms River Road and 5. Royal Grove Realty LLC, Block 16005, Lot 36, Knight Drive
will be reached. Mr. Gertner added without the process, it is not likely that these applications will be reached. Regarding application 3.
Renee Bogart/ Glenn Knowles, Block 18502, Lot 55, 485 Toms River Road- with the consent of the applicant, that matter will be
carried to February 19,2020 without further notice, and application 5. Royal Grove Realty LLC, Block 16005, Lot 36, Knight Drive will
also be carried to February 19, 2020.
Mr. Alfieri stated there are ordinance standards that revolve around the GDP requirements, and the variance relief will be discussed that is
being sought. Mr. Borden stated d‐variances are required, and as the Board knows the “D” type is special variance relief, and Exhibit A‐4
shows a map of the property where the uses have been identified to show the d‐variances, and all commercial uses with the acceptation
of the medical building, one is the medical research as well as the residential mixed use apartments, and the special needs apartments and
the stand alone apartment buildings, and as far as the D‐1 variance for medical research is concerned, it does promote the general welfare
of the Town, this is not a hardship situation, the single commercial variance is the medical research, and is compatible to the uses is a HC‐
zone, it is compatible because it promotes residential uses, and the side also has direct access to Monmouth road. Mr. Book mentioned
the medical facility should have some testimony heard from the applicant.
Vito Cardinale- partner/ managing member- sworn- Mr. Alfieri asked Mr. Cardinale to give history as to what the business and personal
relationship is with the property. Mr. Cardinale said his desire is to bring in family entertainment, and sports for Jackson, and the personal
goal is to create an MS center, and there is already a MS center built with Centrastate that handles 3,200 women with the disease, and
that center gives treatment. Mr. Cardinale said his goal is end MS, it took his wife, and there is the goal to partner with the mayo clinic,
because it’s brain research, and the research being done is helpful, and when someone passes away with MS, they will be in a donor
program and the brain will be donated and studies will be done to over 1,200 MS centers. Lesions need to be studied, and the goal is to be
the Bin Laden of drug conservancies. Mr. Cardinale said he wants to keep patients alive, and end MS, and that can’t be done with another
wine tasting, and there has been accusation that this development is being used for personally gain, and this is being created to have a go
to MS center, and there are presidents of hospitals that have committed to keeping with the protocol, not everyone with MS has the
luxury of living at home. Mr. Hurley asked if Centrastate has a provision for MS patients, and asked what the intensity of use there is for
that type of facility. Mr. Cardinale asked that they be MS patients, and this is special needs housing, for those who can’t afford to have
family type housing. Mr. Hurley asked if this is going to supplement facility. Mr. Cardinale said the real goal is to see what isn’t normally
seen, and the person who will be running the facility will be seeing the world. Mr. Cardinale said those suffering from Parkinson’s, and ALS
will not be turned away, however the goal is to get this built.
Mr. Borden stated there is a sole D‐variance, and the Board must find there is general welfare, it is not inconsistent with the master plan
and zoning ordinance. The language in the 2009 master plan is what the guidelines are based from, there is Jackson Parke that is being
constructed however there is no public transportation to that site, this site gives public transportation, and this is proposed to have
affordable housing to help the town with the affordable housing needs, and a small portion of housing is for special needs housing. Mr.
Alfieri stated that Exhibit A‐6 notes that the apartments will be shifted, and asked that be discussed. Mr. Borden stated the D‐1 variance
for the mixed use does meet the criteria for the master plan. Exhibit A‐5 has the D‐6 variances, which are the height variances, the D‐6
variances must show positive criteria, and there are proposed heights that exceed the Township ordinance, and they are all located on the
far corner of the property, and the one is the hotel, the mixed residential building, and the social mixed building, and the criteria is met,
the fact that the proposed uses are located adjacent to that zone. Mr. Borden stated the hotel height purposed is 58’, and there is a
maximum height of 35’ and the justification for this variance is that the hotel is set back 500’. There are height variances for 3 buildings in
phase 1 and they are closer to Monmouth Road, and the 2 approved buildings are 450’, mixed use commercial/ residential with a
maximum height of 44’, where 35’ is required, and the closest setback is 230’ which exceeds the front yard setback of 60’, the medical
research facility is the height of 64 1/2’, and all would comply if this were in the C‐1 zone. The view of the structure from the surrounding
areas is the negative criteria. Mr. Alfieri asked if there are structures on Great Adventure’s property that are higher then what is purposed.
Mr. Borden advised that is correct. Ms. McIlhinney asked for clarification regarding the Jackson Fair share housing, and asked if the special
needs housing met the criteria. Mr. Borden mentioned that the affordable aspect has to be provided in the apartments. Mr. Alfieri asked
that the C‐variance relief be gone through. Mr. Borden discussed the sign package, and mentioned that most signs that require variances
have been approved and will remain the same, however there are 3 signs purposes, one would be the freestanding digital sign to be
installed where is not permitted, the purposed freestanding sign would be 10’ setback from Monmouth Road were 30’ is required. Mr.
Costanzo asked what the height of the sign would be. Mr. Borden stated the maximum height required is 16’, and 33’ is purposed. Mr.
Costanzo asked if the sign will serve lot 1. Mr. Borden stated that is correct, and the 50’ buffer is important, because the highway
commercial zone does not require buffers, and this is a commercial destination, it’s not appropriate to have a 50’ buffer.

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