Is this JBoss AS 4.2.3? I don't see a reason why the server would look for files in that location during startup.
P.S: This is exactly one of the reasons why it is a bad idea to upload content into some folder within the application, at runtime.
Thanks for the reply Jaikiran.
Yes, this is JBoss 4.2.3. I confirmed that the server does a recursive scan through all the files inside the application. By moving all the content directories out temporarily, the application deplolys in a few seconds (of course the functionality doesn't work as the required content files are not available).
And I agree, it is a terrible idea to put content into the application directory. Unfortunately, the problem is too deep-rooted in the code to do anything about.