THERE WON'T BE ANY BANQUET HALL, THE SEPARATE RESTROOMS ARE ONLY FOR THE BUILDING CODE, THEY ASSURED THE BOARD

Yet another school campus application was presented to Lakewood Township's Planning Board where the applicant's professionals emphatically declared "there will be no simcha hall" and yet, the tell-tale signs were right there for all to see.


The Planning Board tonight approved SP 2468 for a full blown campus on nearly 4 acres at the corner of Cross Street and Niemann Road (just north of Yeshiva Sha'agas Aryeh) for Bet Midrash Ohel Torah.


The plans submitted propose to construct a two-story main building with an approximately 7,000 sq feet Beis Medrash and a finished basement, a three-story dormitory, a gymnasium, a single-family residence for the Rosh Yeshiva, a basketball court, and an inground pool. 


The campus will contain a parking lot with 144 parking spaces, with driveways from both Cross Street and Niemann Road. (The Ocean County Planning Board which will also review this application, will make the determination on whether the Cross Street driveway will be full movement or rights turns only).


The architectural plans submitted to the Board and made available to the public in advance depict two separate dining rooms in the basement, with a separate entrance from the outside leading to a lobby with 2 sets of coatrooms and restrooms, and then to one of the dining rooms. (All together, their 2 "dining rooms" will contain 6,110 sq feet).


Does this resemble a banquet hall?


The Board thought it did.


Schools are a permitted use in this zone, however, banquet halls are not permitted as a principal use, nor as an accessory use to schools.


Attorney Adam Pfeffer emphatically declared that this is not a banquet hall and that the women's restrooms are being provided solely "to adhere to Building Code requirements".


(Interesting explanation. Are separate coatrooms also a "building code requirement"?)


Chairman Moshe Neiman threw a curve ball, questioning why the applicant wasn't being upfront about the Simcha Hall, noting that 144 parking spaces does seem sufficient for a Simcha Hall.


(No one had any answers for him, however, he should have realized that the Traffic Study submitted with the application indicates the proposed Yeshiva campus will serve 140 post 

high school students that will live in the dormitory, and that many of these students will likely have cars parked here at night.)


There are currently two-story frame dwellings, a shed, and small pole barn on this site. These will be removed. According to the plans, the proposed school building will be 12,500 sq feet for the footprint. The proposed dormitory will be more 10,000 sq feet in size. The proposed gymnasium will be roughly 6,000 sq feet in area. The proposed inground pool will be 800 sq feet and enclosed with a fence. The proposed basketball court is shown as a 50’ X 75’ rectangle.


No curb or sidewalk exists along this portion of West Cross Street or Niemann Road but are proposed with this application.


All utilities required for the school are available with nearby hookup.



Stormwater management facilities are proposed for the site, including multiple underground recharge systems under the parking area. Additional stormwater management is proposed within the West Cross Street and Niemann Road rights-of-ways.


The Board granted a Minimum Front Yard Setback Variance of 50 feet where 70 feet is required, and a Minimum Rear Yard Setback Variance of 20 feet where 30 feet is required.



A board member mentioned that the campus does not propose accomodations for school buses, so the Board conditioned the approval that the school may not be rented out to a summer camp (which would have buses) unless the applicant returns to the Board for an amended approval.


Board member David Helmreich questioned if there was sufficient parking for the large sized Beis Medrash and banquet hall. Engineer Brian Flannery testified that there would be sufficient parking, and the Board accepted his professional testimony.


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