At Tuesday night’s council meeting in Jackson, local activist Elenor Hannum was on the receiving end of a strong rebuke from the township attorney after she began complaining about the recent zoning changes adopted by the Planning Board as part of the settlement negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Hannum, who was once caught on tape discussing how to purchase a pine snake and place it on a Jewish owned property to stop the development, accused the township of “taking” away property from residents, a claim completely removed reality and without any basis.
“Most residents have no idea that their property … [has] become part of this settlement without them being told,” she said, adding that “hundreds of home properties were written into this settlement without them being notified.”
However, Brent Pohlam, who serves as a special counsel for Jackson Township, quickly noted that no land or property was taken away from anybody and pointed out that
“You can use all the words you want it’s not a taking,” he said. “Public municipal entities have the right to change the uses within zones [and] that does not constitute a ‘taking.’
“As many times as you say it, as many times as you try to tell people and get them mad that their properties are being taken – it’ just not true,” he continued, before adding that there is no law requiring residents to be notified a change in zoning.
“There is no requirement under any law in the state of New Jersey or the United States government or within the ordinance of the Jackson Township that say that when you enter into a settlement agreement with a federal, state or public or private entity that results in the change of use, that the settlement agreement requires that these individuals within that zone received notice before the settlement agreement is approved,” Pohlam said.
“There is just no requirement for it – you may not like it, ma’am but that’s just the law.”
In May 2020, as reported by TLS, the Justice Department filed a complaint alleging that Jackson Township and the Jackson Township Planning Board violated the equal terms and nondiscrimination provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the nondiscrimination provision of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Last year, Jackson Township agreed to resolve the United States’ claims against the Township and Planning Board by entering into a Consent Order which requires that the Township repeal the 2017 Ordinance and replace it with an ordinance permitting schools, and associated housing, such as dormitories, in certain zoning districts.
Watch the full clip below.