PLANNING BOARD MEMBER WAS CONCERNED NEIGHBORS WERE SCARED TO OPPOSE SHUL'S PARKING VARIANCE

Lakewood Township's Planning Board last week (August 23rd) approved Kollel Tiferes Shlomo's application with a major parking variance of 6 spaces where 23 spaces were required.


The application (SP 2476aa) was presented as a Change of Use application which are exempted from submitting a complete Site Plan, because the structure was originally approved as a residential dwelling, and, mid-construction it was changed to a Shul for the Kollel.


According to Rabbi Chaim Grossman, the Township's Code Enforcement Department did not actually issue a violation for the illegal change of use, but an inspector asked the Kollel to apply to the Planning Board for a Change of Use, hence this application was presented to the Board.


The building is located at 715 Park Avenue at the East 8th Street intersection.


According to the architectural plans, there is an already built 1,298 sq foot Beis Medrash, which has an occupancy of 49, and Rabbi's office on the first floor, as well as a second study room / library of 488 sq feet, which has an occupancy of 33, on the second floor. They are also proposing to complete the basement with a 1,329 sq foot Kiddush hall, which has an occupancy of 90, in the basement.


Lakewood Township's ordinances require 1 parking space for every 100 sq feet of main sanctuary space up to 1,999 sq feet, and 0.75 parking spaces for every 100 sq feet of a catering facility. (No parking is required for secondary sanctuary space as well as ancillary and support rooms). As such, 13 parking spaces were required for the Beis Medrash and 10 additional parking spaces were required for the Kiddush hall.


However, the Planning Board granted a variance to permit them to provide a total only 6 parking spaces, with the stipulation that the Kiddush hall may only be used on Shabbos, and not during the week at all, even by members of the shul.


The Township's ordinances typically require a 20-foot perimeter buffer for shuls and schools in residential zones. In this case, the building was already built with zero buffer. The Board granted a waiver from this buffer requirement.


The Township's ordinances also typically require a parking buffer which prohibits parking closer than 5 feet to any side 

or rear property line adjacent to residentially-zone properties. The Board also granted a waiver from this buffer requirement.


The building is located in the R7.5 zone which permits shuls on lots of 7,500 sq feet. The Board reaffirmed an existing Lot Area Variance of only 6,654 sq feet.


The Board also reaffirmed an existing front yard setback of 13 feet from the property’s East Eighth Street 

frontage where 25 feet is required.


Prior to voting on the application, the Board opened to the public. No members of the public rose to speak on the application.


Rabbi Chaim Grossman, the applicant and owner, told the Board that they have never had any parking issues as they are a small Kollel, many members walk and some park on the other side of the tracks.


Board Member Dovid Helmreich noted that there were numerous variances including a major parking variance (which the Board rarely grants) and a zero buffer in middle of a residential neighborhood, and yet, no neighbors came to speak up.


Mr. Helmreich suggested that perhaps the neighbors are unhappy with the application but they are scared to come speak in opposition.


Rabbi Grossman responded that "we met with the neighbors and we discussed the Kiddush hall and parking and they are ok."


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