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Lakewood Township's Planning Board this week Tuesday again turned a blind eye to a Simcha Hall with insufficient parking - despite strong opposition from numerous neighbors, and despite that the Board likely even lacked jurisdiction to hear the application.

Bnos Yaakov girls school is located on Kent Road off County Line Road. It currently has one big parking lot with driveways on both Kent Road and County Line Road.

The school is in middle of a building expansion project. Numerous neighbors alerted the Board that the school is advertising in their fundraising brochure that they are planning on building a Simcha Hall in their school. Attorney Adam Pfeffer simply denied this fact.

The school was at the Planning Board for approval to build a new, 31 space parking lot on the adjacent Cathedral Drive, which is a narrow residential cul-de-sac. There used to be a one-story home and shed on the lot of the proposed parking lot.

The applicant claimed that the parking lot is a permitted use because it is an accessory use to a school which is permitted in this zone. However, this may not be correct, and likely, the Planning Board even lacked jurisdiction to hear the application. The parking lot is proposed to be adjacent to the school, but on a separate lot. The site is in the R-15 zone and parking lots are not permitted as primary or accessory uses in this zone (unless they are being provided on the same lot as a permitted use, not as a permitted use).

The plan also proposes a concrete walkway from the parking lot to the back door of the building. Many neighbors alerted the Board that this will be the entrance to the Simcha Hall.

A number of neighbors told the Board that they attempted to discuss alternative proposals with the owners of the school - including relocating the entrance to the parking lot onto County Line Road - to no avail.

The Planning Board chose to simply believe Attorney Adam Pfeffer's claim that there was "no approved or proposed Simcha Hall", and approved the application as presented.

As previously reported on FAA News, the Ocean County Engineering Department and Planning Board has been forced to do the Township's job of more keenly reviewing plans for banquet halls.

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