BNOS BROCHA TELLS JUDGE THEIR SIMCHA HALL IS NOT A "BUSINESS" FOR "THE PUBLIC", IT IS ONLY "AN ACCOMODATION" FOR "THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY TO HOLD RELIGIOUS EVENTS"

As first reported here on FAA News (https://www.faanews.com/2022/08/lawsuit-seeks-to-immediately-shut-down.html), Clayton Associates, which operates at 1650 Oak Street, has filed a lawsuit seeking court approval to shut down Bnos Brocha's simcha hall on the basis that the school never received Township Zoning Board approval for the use of a banquet hall which is not a permitted use under the Township's zoning ordinances.


Bnos Brocha is located at 1665 Corporate Road West, in back of Clayton's property.


At a previous hearing on the matter held before Ocean County Superior Court Judge Marlene Ford back on February 17, 2022, Attorney Howard Lipstein representing Bnos Brocha responded that the simcha hall is not "for business purposes", but rather, "Bnos Brocha is a community school for the Religious Jewish community, and the banquet hall is used strictly for religious events by members of the community school".


At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Ford signed an Order permitting continued usage of the simcha hall, "only for school purposes by defendant Bnos Brocha and/or any successors, vendors, for purposes associated with the school and not for business or commercial use."


So... We learned that the Bnos Brocha simcha hall is allowed to be used "only for school purposes by defendant Bnos Brocha and vendors", and that is used "strictly for religious events by members of the community school".


Until June 22nd that is, claims the Plaintiff.


Clayton obtained a copy of Bnos Brocha's school calendar which indicates that their last day of school was June 22nd.


Clayton has also obtained a copy of the simcha hall use agreement which indicates that for a fee, the school does rent out the hall - in contrast to the representation by their attorney at the February 17, 2022 hearing.


Clayton's investigative team observed the simcha hall being used on 16 days since the school year ended.


In response, Clayton has filed a Motion to Enforce Litigant's Rights seeking to immediately cease all activity in the simcha hall "until such time as it receives all requisite and unappealable approvals for same".


In the moving documents, Attorney Rob Shea who represents Bnos Brocha notes that "each event contained similar characteristics; numerous patrons were seen entering and exiting the property. These patrons parked along both sides of Corporate Road, this creating heavy traffic congestion and rendering the road a one-way street with cars attempting to navigate around one another to safely pass. Furthermore, patrons also parked in the surrounding accessways, including Plaintiffs, this preventing ingress or egress to the properties."


The motion continues that on at least one date in August, there were "over 100 cars parked on Corporate Road. Several cars were parked facing the wrong direction and others [were] parked in front of accessways of the surrounding properties including Plaintiffs, and even inside Plaintiffs parking lot itself... The resulting traffic made it difficult for cars and trucks to navigate the road... On one occasion, a tractor trailer was forced to wait at the end of the roadway for the street to clear before it could pass safely".


Clayton's motion seeks to order Bnos Brocha to "immediately cease all activity in its catering/banquet hall known as “Simcha Hall” until such time as it receives all requisite and unappealable approvals for same;" as well to recover legal fees and order monetary sanctions.


This motion was filed on August 24th. Judge Ford was previously scheduled to release a decision last Friday September 9th. However, as previously reported here on FAA News (https://www.faanews.com/2022/09/court-hearing-which-seeks-to-shut-down.html), at the request of Bnos Brocha's attorney Mr. Lipstein, Judge Ford has consented to a two-week adjournment until next Friday September 23rd.


Bnos Brocha's attorney Mr. Lipstein has now filed Opposition to the Motion to Enforce Litigant's Rights.


Mr. Lipstein asserts that "the use of Simcha Hall is directly related to the use of the property on which the school is located as an accessory use as allowed by the Township... As part and parcel of the school’s operation and as an accessory use thereto, Bnos Brocha permits the school’s cafeteria - known as Simcha Hall - to be used by members of the school community for celebrations of bar and bat mitzvah’s and other religious related events.


"The use of Simcha Hall by Bnos Brocha is not for commercial purposes but solely to provide for the needs of the school community to hold religious events such as bar and bat mitzvahs which include a small reception following such events.


"Bnos Brocha has not used Simcha Hall for business purposes, not does it advertise or solicit business from the public for these events, in that same are an accommodation, a service, and their only function is to the immediate religious community.


"Simcha Hall is not set up to make a profit and does not use any formal contracts. There is a Hall Use Agreement which is principally a set of rules and regulations including State guidelines to comply with Covid requirements."


Judge Ford's previous orders permit the Simcha Hall to be used "only for school purposes by defendant Bnos Brocha and vendors, and not for business purposes".


The plaintiff claims that the simcha hall was used for events after the school year ended and therefore, those events were obviously not "for school purposes by defendant Bnos Brocha and vendors".


The plaintiff is further supporting their claim that Bnos Brocha is indeed rented out "for business purposes" - in violation of Judge Ford's orders - by producing the Hall Use Agreement which shows that users of the hall do pay a fee for use of the hall.


Bnos Brocha, in their Opposition, is now asserting that the simcha hall is "not for commercial purposes" and they "do not use any formal contracts, [only] a Hall Use Agreement which is principally a set of rules and regulations", rather, the school "permits the school’s cafeteria to be used by members of the community for celebrations of bar and bat mitzvah’s and other religious related events" and that these events are "solely an accomodation to provide for the needs of the school community to hold religious events".


Mr. Lipstein therefore asserts that "at this juncture of the case, Plaintiff cannot show any violation of the Court’s Orders".


Bnos Brocha does not deny that banquet halls are not expressly permitted under the Township's zoning ordinances, however, they argue that "the use of the simcha hall is a valid accessory use to the school’s operation", and the ultimate legal issue is that the parties are in dispute regarding this matter. Both parties have retained land use experts to present testimony on this issue and those expert report are due by October 3rd. As such, "Plaintiff’s current motion purporting to be a Motion To Enforce Litigant’s rights is in actuality little more than an attempt to have the Court rule on this ultimate issue now, [prematurely]".


The Township has not yet filed Opposition to the Plaintiff's Motion.


Judge Ford is scheduled to hold oral arguments next Friday September 23rd. 



(As previously reported here on FAA News (https://www.faanews.com/2022/08/back-in-court-judge-to-lake-terrace-if.html), Clayton Associates has also filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down Lake Terrace for the same reason).


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3 comments:

  1. Both Lake Terrace and Bnos Brocha are being sued because they are operating Simcha halls without Township approval.

    The Township does not permit stand-alone banquet halls (like Lake Terrace), nor does the Township permit schools (such as Bnos Brocha) to build Simcha halls.

    The Township only permits shuls to have catering facilities.

    This issue is leading to these lawsuits which are seeking to shut down the Simcha halls.

    Why in the world has the Township Committee never gotten around to legalizing Simcha halls??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anon 12:27,

      It's because the residents are fed up with all these simcha halls in their residential neighborhoods. It destroys our lives every single night sitting in the crazy congestion heaped upon us by the owners of the private school businesses. Some of these owners have intentionally misrepresented the capacity of their simcha halls in order to get approved with barely any parking. The immediate result is that neighbors suffer all kinds of disastrous consequences - which of course the applicants could care less about because they're making tons of money and taking fancy vacations.

      What the committee should do is take an area in town and place all the banquet halls over there, where we can all expect to have traffic jams - but at least we can drive to and from our homes. In fact, recently a Planning board member asked the owner of a building (Newlines Engineering) in the Cedarbridge corporate Park why he refuses to develop a simcha hall in his new class A building -- which actually makes sense. His response was that it's not good for his business because his tenants are "bessere mentschen" and they don't want to deal with the issues that come along with these banquet halls. But he's totally fine designing these places of mass vehicular traffic jams in the little people's neighborhoods. Disgusting!

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    2. What I said was that it doesn't look nice to have vegetable delivery trucks and other simcha-hall-related traffic mess up the nice scenery of the fancy Class A buildings. The regular residents don't mind having a convenient simcha hall on their block, even if it means wasting hours upon hours in traffic jams. Anybody that complains about it is either a rasha or a moiser and is just plain jealous of my clients. I know my business. It's all good.

      Delete