The Sunset Road Sefardic Congregation, located at 220 Sunset Road near Liberty Drive has submitted an application to Lakewood Township's Planning Board to demolish the residential house they currently use "ad hoc" for their Shul and Kollel and replace it with a new 2-story building.

According to the architectural plans submitted to the Board, the first floor will contain a 2,218 sq foot Beis Medrash as well as a 544 sq foot Otzar / Cheder Sheni, and the second floor will contain a 1,273 sq foot Ezras Noshim as well as a 93 sq foot warming kitchen.

The Township's zoning ordinances require 1.25 parking spaces for every 100 sq feet of "main sanctuary space" if such space is more than 2,000 sq feet. The ordinance specifies that "main sanctuary area shall not include secondary sanctuary space, mikvah, hallways, bathrooms, kitchen, and other ancillary and/or support rooms."

As such it appears that the Beis Medrash would require 28 off-street parking spaces. The Site Plan which was designed by Engineer Eric Halpert of Haler Consulting of Jackson, shows only 9 off-street parking spaces.

Interestingly, the application as submitted indicates that they only require 18 parking spaces. This appears to be incorrect.

The application is being represented by Attorney Adam Pfeffer.

The total lot area is 12,000 sq feet, and the lot width is 100 feet, as required by the Ordinance for this zone.

The application seeks variances for Front Yard Setback of 25 feet where 30 feet is required, and for Side Yard Setback of 4 feet where 10 feet is required, and for Rear Yard Setback of 4.8 feet where 20 feet is required.

The application also seeks a parking setback variance as all of the parking spaces will go up to the property line, as the proposed buffer will be only 10 inches instead of the required 20 foot.

The shul has provided a traffic study which was performed by McDonough and Rea Associates. It confidently assures the Board that "the parking supply is adequate to support the anticipated demand and use of the shul since the shul is intended to serve congregants within the neighborhood and it is expected that a number of congregants will walk to the shul."

The Planning Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on this application at their next meeting on Tuesday October 25th, after Yom Tov. Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak up in favor, or in opposition to, the application. FAA News has learned that the neighbors are opposing the application due to its major parking variance.

The application also requires approval from the Ocean County Planning Board. The application was already presented to the Ocean County Planning Board, who conditionally approved the application on a contingency that the applicant "clarify if nine parking spaces adequately addresses the parking requirements for the proposed use. Construction shall not commence until all the conditions are met".

As previously reported here on FAA News, back in 2019 the Lakewood Planning Board granted approval of Beis Reuven Kaminetz's application for a 15-unit housing Subdivision, school and Simcha Hall in the basement. The neighbors subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Yeshiva and the Board, arguing that the number of proposed students was misrepresented and that the yeshiva did not advertise in their legal notice to the neighbors that they were planning to include a banquet hall in their building. Thanks to this lawsuit, which remains pending in the Appellate Division, Ocean County officials have learned of the issues caused by the Lakewood Planning Board turning a blind eye to major parking variances and Simcha halls in general, and they have upped their own game in keeping a more watchful eye on Lakewood school applications. Likewise, the county is keeping a more watchful eye on this shul application and its major parking variance. As Sunset Road is a county road, the county has more latitude on this application, and they can hold off construction until they grant final approval.

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Anonymous said...

I really hope the Planning Board does not turn a blind eye to this application. Once upon a time, Storyteller/ Attorney Zevy Brown told this very same "many congregants live in walking distance" claim to the Board. That was on the Cong. Neustadt application on County Line Road. They even put in provisions for right in turns only. Parking and illegal left turns is an utter disaster.

MCG said...

So basically, because Kaminetz was purposefully dishonest with the numbers, they screwed it up for everyone else. And the biggest chutzpah is that the school owner tries painting the neighbors as the bad apples, when all they did was try to protect their quality of life from being destroyed by a shyster who (besides for his tiny school bus lane and parking lot) also wants to build 15 houses and sell them for over 10 million dollars - at the expense of everyone living in the neighborhood!

Torah was never meant to be built in this way. That's for sure!!

Anonymous said...

The 15 residential lots at 819K each are over 12 million dollars. The people buying on Kaminetz's Farmers Drive have no idea what's in store for them when the Simcha Hall opens up. They may as well sign up for house arrest every night. Also, whenever there's school dismissal they may as well forget they own a car because 18 school buses will be lined up all along Ridge Avenue as only a few can fit into their parking lot at a time.

Anonymous said...

Ummm... Did you forget about summer camp when there's 800+ kids being picked up and dropped off by their parents. Or the evenings when hundreds of kids return by bus from a trip to the amusement park and their parents pile up for blocks on ridge ave waiting to pick them up. The place will be a complete disaster zone! The neighbors would be wise to rent a few rooms in a local hotel if they want to be able to access the rest of society.

Kaminetz picked one of the narrowest streets in town to park their school on. Like what were they thinking? or is it that they just plain didn't care?

Anonymous said...

The parking variance should be insane enough, but the buffer which will be lost due to parking at the property line makes it even way worse.

The Township's ordinance requires shuls to provide a 20 foot buffer from a residential use. The "required buffer shall be landscaped with trees, shrubs, and other suitable plantings for beautification and screening".

At other Planning Board applications, neighbors have testified that this buffer is of high importance to their quality of life.

By creating parking spaces so close to the property line they are eliminating this quality of life buffer.

New England Village resident said...

What's the applicant proposing to replace the 20 feet of required setback with? 10 inches and a thin flimsy fence? Is this a Purim joke??

Anonymous said...

LKWD planning board is Purim a gantz yar

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:40,
I disagree. They only behave like it's Purim when they approve crazy applications like this. I'm sensing a new positive shift, albeit slow and not enough.