BREAKING NEWS: JUDGE SHUTS DOWN BNOS BROCHA SIMCHA HALL

Following an extremely tense court hearing Friday morning in Ocean County Superior Court, Judge Marlene Ford formally ordered that Bnos Brocha is to immediately cease all activity in its catering hall "until such time as it receives all requisite and unappealable approvals for same". Judge Ford also ordered Bnos Brocha to pay a $5,000 monetary sanction and to pay reasonable attorney fees to Clayton Associates who sued for their closure.


The public legal saga began back in November 2020, when Toms River Attorney Rob Shea representing Clayton Associates, which operates at 1650 Oak Street, in back of Bnos Brocha, sent a letter to Lakewood Township officials notifying them that Bnos Brocha was being utilized in manners "contrary to the resolutions, permits, and approvals previously obtained for the property", and as a result of illegal uses and illegally expanded uses, "a nuisance has been created impacting... the surrounding properties.... [with] parking issues [and] with traffic circulation and buses". This ultimately impedes the other businesses access to their own parking spaces for their own employees and/or customers".


Mr. Shea's letter asserted that Bnos Brocha at one point reconfigured their parking lot to install an in-ground pool and this removed the originally approved bus parking spaces, thereby forcing the buses to utilize the local roadway, ultimately clogging the narrow roadways.


Mr. Shea requested that the Township use its statutory enforcement powers to restrict use of the school only according to the approvals it received.


The Township Committee, Zoning Officer and Director of Code Enforcement chose not to answer the letter.


As a result, on January 11, 2021, Clayton filed in Ocean County Superior Court a Verified Complaint and Order to Show Cause, charging that the school was renting space to a linen store called Table Linen, LLC, a/k/a La Tableau, without ever having received Township approval for this outside business on school property. The lawsuit named as defendants both Bnos Brocha, as well as the Township of Lakewood for refusing to enforce its zoning ordinances.


The Order to Show Cause seeked an immediate hearing for injunctive relief to "immediately shut down operation of all non-school purposes uses on the property".


On February 5, 2021, Lakewood Township Attorney Steven Secare submitted a letter of Opposition to the Motion. 


Mr. Secare did not address whether or not Bnos Brocha was in compliance with Township ordinances and their land use board approvals, or whether or not Township officials ever inspected the property in response to complaints of any violations.


Rather, Mr. Secare argued simply that the Plaintiff did not yet make the case to be granted injunction restraints, and that "based upon the assertions alleged by the Plaintiff, not yet subject to the scrutiny of discovery and examination, such a preliminary or interlocutory injunction, is not warranted at this time".


Judge Marlene Ford held oral arguments on the case on February 19, 2021.


Clayton Associates was represented by Attorney Rob Shea. Bnos Brocha was represented by Springfield Attorney Howard Lipstein. Table Linen was represented by Lakewood Attorney Mordechai Gross. Township of Lakewood was represented by Toms River Attorney Steven Secare.


At the hearing it was somehow revealed that Bnos Brocha also has a banquet hall for which they never received any Township approval, and Judge Ford ordered that the Plaintiff could file an amended complaint to add in the complaints regarding the banquet hall and to add "Bnos Brocha Simcha Catering Hall" as a named defendant.


Following the hearing, on March 8, 2021, Judge Ford signed the following Order:


1. The Plaintiff's Order to Show Cause, with regard to Bnos Brocha, is granted wherein restraints are ordered to prohibit Bnos Brocha from conducting operations other than what are expressly permitted in their Use Variance resolution...


2. Bnos Brocha is restrained if Simcha Hall is used for business purpose, for example, as a catering hall, for non-school purposes unless [it's] an approved use... or otherwise permitted under Lakewood ordinances.


In essence, Judge Ford granted injunction restraints against Bnos Brocha from using the Simcha Hall for any business, non-school purposes, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.


Subsequently, on March 22, 2021, Clayton added "Bnos Simcha Hall" as an additional defendant. On June 7, 2021, Clayton filed a second amended complaint to add Table Linen to the lawsuit.


In August 2021, the Township substituted their attorney to Jean Ciprani instead of Steven Secare.


Also in August 2021, as part of the discovery process of the lawsuit, Clayton served Lakewood Township and Bnos Brocha and Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall with "Requests for Admissions" which are questions relating to the lawsuit which they are required to answer.


Some of the requests to the Township, which seeked answers of admitted or denied, included the following:


10. The Township does not possess any application for Certificate of Occupancy for the use of a banquet hall/catering facility at this property


12. The Township is not in possession of any Resolution from the Land Use Board approving the use of a banquet hall/catering facility


15. The Township has never issued a warning for improper operation of Bnos Brocha's simcha hall


22. The Township has inspected the property for improper operation of a banquet hall/catering facility


Patrick Donnelly, the Township Manager, Francine Siegel, the Township's Zoning Officer, and Mike Saccomanno, the Township's Director of Code Enforcement, all supplied the following responses:


10. Admit


12. Admit


15. Admit


22. Deny


Some of the requests to Defendants Bnos Brocha and Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall, which seeked answers of admitted or denied, included the following:


6. Bnos Brocha operates the in-ground pool exclusively for its students


7. Bnos Brocha has a lease, agreement, or contract with Defendant Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall for the use and/or operation of a banquet hall/catering facility on the Property.


8. Bnos Brocha acknowledges that the property is located in the M-1 industrial zone.


9. Banquet halls/catering facilities are not permitted uses in the M-1 zone.


10. Bnos Brocha did not obtain any Land Use Board Resolutions of Approval for the operation of a banquet hall/catering facility on its property.


11. Bnos Brocha operates a banquet hall/catering facility on the Property.


12. Bnos Brocha allows use of its pool during events at the banquet hall/catering facility on the property.


15. Bnos Brocha is aware of the parking and traffic congestion during pick-up and drop-off hours of its students.


28. Events such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, receptions and similar events are held or performed at the banquet hall/catering facility on the Property.


In October 2021, Bnos Brocha gave the following responses:


6. Admit


7. Deny, Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall is not a separate legal entity.


8. Admit


9. Deny, same is an accessory use of Bnos Brocha.


10. Admit, same is a legal accessory use.


11. Admit


12. Deny. The pool is not used during events.


15. Deny. There is no parking or traffic congestion within the usual operation of a school.


28. Admit.


Together with these responses, Mr. Lipstein wrote to Mr. Shea that he will not give separate responses as to "Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall" as that is not a separate legal entity. He further requested that Mr. Shea consent to removing Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall as a separately named defendant.


After Mr. Shea did not respond to this request, on December 17, 2021, Bnos Brocha filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgement, which seeked to remove Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall as a defendant, as "Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall" was not a separate legal entity, but rather, it was simply the name of a banquet hall which was operated by the Bnos Brocha school.


In response, Clayton filed a Cross Motion for Partial Summary Judgement seeking a final disposition on the question of the property's banquet hall use. As part of this Cross Motion, Clayton provided as evidence that the simcha hall is indeed being used for non-school business purposes (contrary to Judge Ford's March 8, 2021 Order), recent online reviews from guests of events at the Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall.


Prior to oral arguments being held, Lakewood Township appointed Attorney Robin La Bue to beseech Judge Ford not to order a Writ of Mandamus which would force the Township to enforce its ordinances to prevent non-permitted uses at Bnos Brocha, arguing again that "the relief sought against the Township is improper and premature".


Ms. La Bue claimed that prior to filing their initial lawsuit, the Plaintiff only gave the Township 2 months notice to investigate the allegations and that this was "not sufficient time".


Ms. La Bue further appealed to Judge Ford that a Mandamus is only appropriate when there is a "clear violation" and the banquet hall use does not suffice as a "clear violation" as the Plaintiff indicated that they do not know exactly when this illegal use first began (i.e. They know that there is a currently an illegal use of a banquet hall, but they do not know when that illegal use first began).


Ms. La Bue further noted that Bnos Brocha asserts that their banquet hall is permitted as an accessory use to their school, and they have retained an expert to address this issue. Until such time as this testimony is presented, "substantial issues of fact exist on whether the Defendants have an entitlement to continuation of the use... These material issues preclude a determination as to the permitted uses and accessory uses of the property at this time... The Township will abide by the Court's determination concerning the permitted uses, or permitted accessory uses of the property. Until such time, the relief sought against the Township is premature and inappropriate."


Judge Ford held a hearing on the matter on February 17, 2022.


On his motion to order a Writ of Mandamus against the Township, Mr. Shea noted that despite the Township attorneys representation that they are "actively investigating" the allegations of illegal use that he brought to their attention in November 2020, in response to his August 2021 Request for Admissions, the Township's Zoning Officer and Director of Code Enforcement admitted that they are aware that Bnos Brocha never applied for a Certificate of Occupancy for a banquet hall, they never inspected the property for improper operation of a banquet hall/catering facility, and they never issued a warning for improper operation of Bnos Brocha's simcha hall - despite being put on notice of such illegal use as a result of this lawsuit.


On his Motion to Enforce Litigant's Rights against Bnos Brocha, Mr. Shea presented reviews from online websites supposedly from recent guests of events at Bnos Brocha which implies that Bnos Brocha does indeed have a banquet hall/catering facility which operates as a business for whoever wants to rent it out, and not just for school purposes as per Judge Ford's 3/8/21 order.


Mr. 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".


Ultimately, Judge Ford granted Bnos Brocha's motion to remove without prejudice "Bnos Brocha Simcha Hall" as a defendant, and denied Clayton's Cross Motion request for a final disposition as to the use of the banquet hall.


However, Judge Ford did sign the following Order:


1. The restraints contained in the Court's order of March 8, 2021 shall continue.


2. Ordered that the banquet/catering facility at [Bnos Brocha] shall continue as per the order of 3/8/21 to be used 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 it is used "strictly for religious events by members of the community school".


Until June 22nd that is, asserts Clayton.


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


Clayton 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, on August 24th Clayton 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 Shea noted 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".


Mr. Shea quoted case law that a claim that a party is acting in violation of a court order "should be brought before the court that issued that order", and that "wilful disobedience of a court order has been held to merit punishment", and further that, "monetary sanction is not for the purpose of punishment but rather for as a coercive measure to facilitate the enforcement of a court order".


Subsequently, attorney Howard Lipstein representing Bnos Brocha's 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", asserted Mr. Lipstein.


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 crucial 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]".


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


In a stark about-face from the previous court hearings, for this motion Lakewood Township did not submit any Opposition.


Attorney Shea then submitted a Reply Brief in response to Bnos Brocha's Opposition.


Mr. Shea notes that the March 8, 2021 order clearly states that Bnos Brocha is restrained from "conducting operations other than what are expressly permitted in their Use Variance resolution", that Bnos Brocha is restrained "if Simcha Hall is used for business purpose, for example, as a catering hall, for non-school purposes unless [it's] an approved use... or otherwise permitted under Lakewood ordinances."


Mr. Shea asserted that Bnos Brocha does not claim to have received Township approval for the simcha hall, but rather that it is permitted as "an accessory use to the school", however, they held 16 events after the school year ended so those events could not have "accessory to the school use".


Mr. Shea further asserted that while Bnos Brocha's attorney claims in his Opposition that the simcha hall is "not a business", R' Shraga Zeldes in his deposition did admit that the simcha hall is "open to the public".


Mr. Shea then delved into the school's explanation that "they permit the Simcha Hall to be used by members of the school community for celebrations of bar and bat mitzvah’s and other religious related events." Mr. Shea notes that Bnos Brocha is only a girls school so therefore, the "members of the school community" only include girls, and therefore, "the hosting of a Bar Mitzvah which is held when a boy turns 13, is clearly beyond the scope of any approval".


In their Opposition, Bnos Brocha asserted that "[the] simcha hall does not advertise nor does it seek business from the public, and its only function is to the immediate religious community".


Mr. Shea produced evidence from the annual publication of the Lakewood Directory that indeed, Bnos Brocha does advertise its simcha hall. He also asserts that all that not withstanding, Bnos Brocha does not assert that it does not receive any business from the public.


Mr. Shea also took issue with the language of "immediate religious community", and "members of the school community" arguing that the school has no approval at all to host events for non-students, and their claim that they are "an accomodation to the community" is without merit.


In response to the evidence of the Hall Use Agreement, Bnos Brocha claimed that they really are not a business as the agreement is not a formal contract, it's "principally a set of rules and regulations, mainly related to adherence of the COVID guidelines".


Mr. Shea responded that the Hall Use Agreement actually includes a clause of bringing any unresolved disagreements to "a mutually agreeable Rav" for arbitration. "If Bnos is using the hall as directed by the court, only for school purposes, then what need would they have for an arbitration clause?... The fact of the matter is that Bnos is using the hall for non-school, business purposes...", Mr. Shea asserted.


Mr. Shea concluded that the court orders only permitted Bnos Brocha to use the simcha hall "for school purposes only", therefore, the claim that they do not earn a profit from simchos is irrelevant as the court orders prohibit any use of the hall which is not "for school purposes only".


On Thursday afternoon, just half a day prior to the court hearing, Mr. Shea submitted to the court a supplemental report from their investigative team which includes photos from a recent event of "a groom and bride in the school lobby". Mr. Shea asserted that these photos are hard evidence that "they are completely in violation of the court orders".


At Friday mornings court hearing, Judge Ford got straight down to business so fast that even the Township's attorney did not even utter a word in defense.


Clayton Associates was represented by their attorneys Rob Shea, Vincent DelRiccio and Bob Shea Jr. Bnos Brocha was represented by their attorney Howard Lipstein and Lakewood Township was represented by Attorney Danielle Rosiejka.


Mr. Shea opened the proceeding by stating "We are here simply for the enforcement of Litigants Rights. The March 8, 2021 order issues "restraints ... to prohibit Bnos Brocha from conducting operations other than what are expressly permitted in their Use Variance resolution... Bnos Brocha is restrained if Simcha Hall is used for business purpose, for example, as a catering hall, for non-school purposes unless [it's] an approved use... or otherwise permitted under Lakewood ordinances." The February 17, 2022 order enforces the first order and clarifies that "the banquet/catering facility at [Bnos Brocha] [is] to be used 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."


Mr. Shea continued "that the school's Planning Board approval is only for a "girls grammar school". At their Board hearing they did not discuss any ancillary uses such as a banquet hall or even an assembly hall, and their Board approval does not include provisions for such a use."


"Therefore, it's our opinion that "what has taken place at the Simcha Hall over the past few months is a wanton wilful violation of the court's orders. Since the school year ended on June 22, there have been 21 events including one recent event where a groom and bride in a gown were seen in the school lobby," Mr. Shea continued.


Mr. Shea then asserted, "Rabbi Zeldes does not deny that these events took place, however, he claims that the school simply allows "members of the religious school community to hold religious events in the simcha hall", yet, the judge's orders do not permit such use. The judge's orders clearly permit use of the 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."


"Rabbi Zeldes in his Opposition filing claims that the hall is not set up as a business for profits, however, we attained the Hall Use Agreement and it certainly is a formal contract between the manager and the host with specific fees paid for the use of the hall", Mr. Shea asserted, adding that "in his recent deposition Rabbi Zeldes admitted that events are indeed "open to the public" and that "anyone can call the school and request to rent the hall" - however, in his recent opposition filing he claims that "the public" means "the immediate Religious community", and that is simply not in accordance with the judges prior orders".


"These events bring hundreds of cars which are parked all over the local roadways. My clients has property in the area and they should not be subjected to all the traffic which is generated by these events which are held without Township approval", Mr. Shea added.


"The Township has completely ignored this issue. We filed our instant motion an entire month ago, so they can't claim that they were unaware of the issue, yet the Township has not done any enforcement since then and they certainly have not issued any violations, therefore we need to turn to the court for judicial intervention", Mr. Shea concluded.


Attorney Howard Lipstein then began his presentation by saying "most events are taking place between 8-10pm which are off-working hours for the Plaintiff."


Judge Ford immediately interjected that "it doesn't matter. What matters is whether or not this school is authorized to hold these events. This non-profit school is not permitted to hide a revenue producing business in its walls."


Mr. Lipstein responded "but it's not a commercial business."


Judge Ford again pressed back by asking "is the school reimbursed in any way, either through a direct fee or by an indirect donation to the school?"


Mr. Lipstein admitted that "there are monies paid for the use of the hall 'to cover the expenses' however, there is no advertising and no solicitation done for this hall".


Judge Ford shot back "I'm getting tired of this. You don't have to put out advertisements in that town, it has the most significant word of mouth method of communication that I think anyone has ever seen in the world."


"It's not a commercial enterprise, they events are happening because it's a religious school and primarily they are Bar Mitzvah's and Bat Mitzvah's which include a reception after the event", Mr. Lipstein attempted to assert.


Judge Ford charged on by asking "are the events held only for students of the school?"


Mr. Lipstein admitted "I'm not 100% sure."


Judge Ford shot back "You said that many of the events are Bar and Bat Mitzvah's. This is a girl school and Bar Mitzvah's are for boys. Also, this is an elementary school and elementary students don't have weddings."


Judge Ford added "you say that the events are "from the religious community", however, in Lakewood that includes 100,000 people. Are you admitting that any member of this 100,000 member religious community can hold an event in this school?"


Mr. Lipstein feebly argued that "I don't believe that that is what's happening here, and there's nothing in the record to show that people who are unaffiliated with the school are using the hall."


Judge Ford then asked for Mr. Lipstein to explain how the "Hall Use Agreement" fits into his narrative that the Simcha Hall is "not a business".


Mr. Lipstein responded that it is not a formal contract, rather it is "principally a set of rules and regulations including State guidelines to comply with Covid requirements."


Judge Ford continued to question, "the Hall Use Agreement includes a clause that if the host cancels the event their monies are forfeited. How much is that money? $100?"


Mr. Lipstein responded "I don't know how much the deposit is, however the Hall Use Agreement is one single page and it does not contain the statement "this is a formal contract between 2 parties".


Mr. Lipstein concluded by arguing that "the real elefant in this case is, is this use permitted as an accessory use? We believe that we are using the hall legally and we will soon submit to the court an expert report to make our case that this is indeed permitted as an accessory use to the approved school. Until that happens please defer action on this motion and allow us to continue to operate as based on our interpretation that this is permitted as an accessory use, we can't be in violation of the courts order".


Attorney Danielle Rosiejka who was representing Lakewood Township noted that she has "nothing to say on this matter".


Mr. Shea then began his response by saying "this is a catering facility with large scale events. I agree that the court has not yet determined whether or not the Simcha Hall is permitted as an accessory use, however, what is definite is that the school is in violation of your previous orders. If it looks like an elefant it usually is."


"The school arranges with Shloimy Kaufman of Simcha Caterers to provide the food for simchos. Based on a reading of their Hall Use Agreement, which includes a clause that in the case of a dispute the parties will go to a mutually acceptable Rabbi for arbitration, it certainly is a revenue producing venue, and if they are permitted to continue to operate even under certain restraints, they will continue to press the court orders and swindle how exactly they get paid, however the bottom line is that this is a business which is in violation of the court's previous orders and those orders now need to be enforced and appropriate sanctions and legal fees need to be ordered", Mr. Shea concluded.


"There is no outside caterer. This venue is fully associated with the school", asserted Mr. Lipstein.


Judge Ford then began the granting of the motion order by saying "I think I know what's going on here. This is a nonprofit school and they operate this banquet hall to bring in some additional income to the school. They say they make it available "only to the community". I don't know that means but I assume that means that I can't use it because I am not a member of the community. The issue is that such an operation is really a commercial enterprise."


"When this lawsuit was filed and it had its initial injunction hearing back in March 2021, I specified that they are restrained if it's a business such as a catering hall or approved by the Township. Since that time the Township had plenty of time to amend their ordinances to permit this use - if they really wanted to permit it," Judge Ford continued.


"At the second hearing in February 2022, the Plaintiff seeked a final disposition on the question of the property's banquet hall use. At the time the court denied without prejudice this request to make a final determination, however the order from that hearing enforces the first order and clarifies that "the banquet/catering facility at [Bnos Brocha]... [is] to be used 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", Judge Ford continued.


"They say they only permit "members of the immediate religious community" to hold religious events in this school, however, I don't see how a school which permits any of the 100,000 members of the "immediate Religious community" to hold all sorts of events can claim to 'not be a catering facility', asserted Judge Ford.


Judge Ford then noted that there is a distinction between Bnos Brocha and Lake Terrace in that Lake Terrace has an approval for a "school with assembly hall" and they claim that the banquet hall use is included in the "assembly hall" approval; however, Bnos Brocha only received approval for a "girls grammar school", and there was never any discussion at the Planning Board of any banquet hall at all.


"It may be a good idea for a non-profit school to operate a revenue producing catering business be able to bring in additional revenue, however that requires an amended approval from the Township Planning Board, especially once you start hosting events on a regular basis", continued Judge Ford.


"Therefore I do find that there was a violation of the order. I don't know how else to get through to people here but I am going to try.


"Despite that most events happen at night when the Plaintiff's business is closed, the Plaintiff is entitled to rely upon the land use procedure of the township, and they can rely on the fact that this site has an approval only for a school.


"A school may be entitled, from time to time, to have school related gatherings, however, they can not disguise a revenue producing catering business in a nonprofit religious school, even with the claim that 'we only permit members of the immediate religious community to hold religious events at the school'".


The signed Order states:


IT IS on this 23rd day of September, 2022,


ORDERED, that Bnos Brocha, Inc. (“Bnos”) is hereby found in violation of the Court Order dated March 8, 2021 and the Court Order dated February 17, 2022. The Court further finds that Defendants’ actions constitute a willful and unjustifiable violation of same;


ORDERED, that Bnos is 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.


ORDERED that Defendants shall pay sanctions in the amount of $__5,000__ for their repeated violations of the March 8, 2021 Order and the February 17, 2022 Order, payable to the Clerk of the Superior Court within 45 days;


ORDERED, that Bnos shall pay reasonable attorney fees to Plaintiff related to the filing of this motion. Plaintiff’s counsel shall submit an Affidavit of Services within 15 days of this Order. The same shall be paid within 30 days from the date in which the affidavit of services are approved by this Court.



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3 comments:

  1. Lakewood Township's Committee permits houses to be built everywhere, however they do not permit stand-alone banquet halls or schools to have banquet halls. They only permit shuls to have catering facilities. Bnos Brocha was sued because it operated a banquet hall without Township Zoning Board approval. The Township was on notice of the lawsuit the entire time and could have fixed the issue by amending the ordinance to permit banquet halls in schools. Instead the Township Committee sat back and allowed Bnos Brocha's simcha hall to get shut down.

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  2. Judge Ford and Clayton Associates are not the ones to blame. Clayton complained to the Township and the Township chose to sit back and ignore the complaints. Clayton had no other recourse but to file a lawsuit. The judge gave the Township a chance to amend its ordinances to permit this simcha hall. The Township Committee instead chose not allow the judge to shut it down.

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    Replies
    1. I’m sick and tired of all these illegal simcha hall banquet facilities popping up all over the place. It’s become the Wild West. Everywhere we go we get stuck in crazy traffic jams and nowhere to park. They should put all the banquet halls in the Cedarbridge park and they must make sure to require a 1:1 parking ratio so there’s enough parking!

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