Public deserves a clear notice of meeting

It must be dj vu. Six years ago someone left a copy of a notification for a public hearing in my mailbox. It was for the Hovbilt project, the 684-acre planned retirement community to be built on top of one of the largest pieces of wetlands in Jackson.

Tributaries that feed the headwaters of the Toms River and become the Barnegat Bay watershed emerge here. It is one of few remaining areas of this pristine watershed un-spoiled by development.

On June 3, I received a phone call from Terri Somers, a friend I met fighting the original Hovbilt application. She tells me she thinks Hovbilt is back. But she’s confused. She has a copy of the notification letter stating the project area is Cassville Road and Burke Tavern Road. Then she asks me if I know where Burke Tavern Road is. Of course I do. Burke Tavern Road is Perrineville Road. The name was changed 12 years ago to accommodate the 911 system.

The notification for this application is very vague as to the location of the project. Usually any reference to Cassville Road includes that it’s Route 571. Absent is all mention of the southern portion of the project adjoining West Veterans Highway. The notification was crafted so as to misrepresent and confuse as to the location of this development.

Notification must be sent 10 days prior to the meeting date. To the best of my knowledge notification was first received on June 2, if at all. This failure to notify denied the public its right of review.

As a result, I request the Jackson Township Committee require the applicant, either directly or through the Planning Board, to re-notify all residents within the 200-foot radius before this application can be heard. I would also request the notification be drafted in such a way to clearly identify the location of this project. I presented my request along with a copy of this letter to the Township Committee at their June 12 meeting.

I urge all property owners within the 200-foot radius of the Hovbilt property to contact the Planning Department and the Township Committee if they did not receive notification or if they feel notification was inadequate or confusing. It is your legal right to be notified within 10 days of the hearing date.

This will be the first real test of our new governing body’s commitment to fighting overdevelopment in Jackson. Will they stick by their campaign promises, or will they succumb to the interests of developers and the special interest groups who funded their nonpartisan campaigns? Surely time will tell.

Janet Gearman