Jackson residents object to planned Orthodox Jewish high school

Debate continues in an Ocean County town over a proposal to build an Orthodox Jewish high school in an area many consider too residential to handle the additional traffic. (2/6/14)

JACKSON - Debate continues in an Ocean County town over a proposal to build an Orthodox Jewish high school in an area many consider too residential to handle the additional traffic.

Other critics of the plan cite potential increases in taxes.

The project has filled auditoriums with opponents, and prompted angry legal exchanges and cries of anti-Semitism.

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A Jewish group wants to build Oros Bais Yaakov, an all-girls orthodox school.

Rabbi Ephraim Birnbaum believes the community will benefit from the school's educated graduates.

But hundreds do not agree. Ed Bannon worries the school would get tax-free status. "You, me and someone else all have to make up the debt to this town," he says. "When the town still wants to collect money for the property. Who's going to pay for the taxes?"

A Facebook page, that's acted as a watchdog of Jackson's zoning board has become a sounding board. Julie Simeone helps run it and says it's not anti-Semitism, it's anti-development for this school.

"There's 17 different schools on that street within 5 minutes," Simeone says. "The pedestrian traffic would be insane. The traffic is already ridiculous there."

Neighbor Jim Curtis says he can't afford it, but sees the argument in favor of a school. "I wouldn't want to forbid any child from getting an education," he says. 

Rabbi Birnbaum declined News 12 New Jersey's request for comment Thursday, and his attorney did not return calls.

The next meeting on the school will be April 2.

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