Residents indicate satisfaction with decision about business

Jackson zoning board dealt with issue regarding JR Custom Landscaping

Staff Writer

JACKSON — The Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment has voted to limit activities at JR Custom Landscaping’s property on Bennetts Mills Road to the terms of an original operating agreement.

Residents who have been expressing concern about noise and odors that were coming from what they said was an unapproved expanded use of the property say they can now enjoy a reprieve.

The zoning board’s Aug. 17 decision limits the business’s operation of vehicles and machinery to between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., as originally agreed to in 1999 and 2009 resolutions. The decision means the business can only receive, store and sell as much mulch as the 6-acre property can handle.

“After the five months we have been going through this, my family will finally gets its mother back,” said Raeann Walker of the “Fed Up Jackson Residents” coalition.

“We have been at every Township Council meeting and we have attempted to go down every avenue to rectify this situation. Now we are relieved that the zoning board saw what we were saying,” Walker said.

The coalition, which consists of residents who live on or in the vicinity of Evergreen Court, claimed the problems at the Bennetts Mills Road property began in early April as JR Custom Landscaping began to produce large quantities of its own mulch and compost.

During the heaviest period of production, piles of material at the site were seen to exceed the regulated height limit of 12 feet, posing a safety hazard and a health hazard, according to the residents.

The company’s prolonged use of heavy machinery before and after normal operating hours, as well as the smell of the compost, caused neighbors to stay inside for most of the spring, the residents said.

“Even my small children said, ‘Daddy, it stinks’ and went back inside. My kids love it outside, and we had to constantly go inside with them,” resident Brian Murphy said .

Deviances from the business plan that was presented to the zoning board in 2009 and what was being conducted earlier this year was also a key issue, according to the zoning board’s engineer, Evan Hill.

“Nowhere on this [business] plan does it talk about the processing of material … [and] nowhere on there does it indicate that there are adequate buffers or distances to adjacent properties consistent with requirements from the state Department of Environmental Protection for a recycling facility,” Hill said.

“This site plan from 2009 does not depict any recycling or processing facilities. The plan that was submitted is not what currently exists out there today,” Hill said.

The zoning board is expected to formally list its concerns about the activities at the site and its directions to the business owner in a resolution.

“The next step is to read the resolution and see what the board says,” said attorney Ray Shea, who represented JR Custom Landscaping. “If the resolution is as I think, I think it’s most beneficial to my client and I think he will be able to operate within the confines of the board’s conclusion.”

For residents who live near the Bennetts Mills Road property, vigilance is still the game plan.

“We are all going to make sure that the regulations are followed, that is all we want. We are not just neighbors any more. We’re family now,” Walker said.