After learning that in accordance with a Planning Board condition of approval, Lakewood Township is withholding Certificate of Occupancies until a shul is constructed - and realizing that construction on the shul has not even begun - planned buyers of homes on Elmhurst Boulevard have now cancelled their pending contracts, FAA News has learned.

There are 3 residential subdivisions located along Route 9 between Hearthstone (Finchley Blvd) and Elmwood Village (Elmhurst Blvd).

The northernmost is Chevy Lane, which was approved by the Lakewood Planning Board as Application SD 1356 and subsequently revised under Application SD 1356B.

In the center is Basswood Drive, which was approved by the Lakewood Planning Board as SD 2007.

Finally, there are newly constructed homes on the northern side of Elmhurst Blvd, which was approved by the Lakewood Planning Board as SD 2008.

These final 2 subdivisions, together, compromise of what's now known as The Maplewoods. At one point this was going to be part of the brand of Satmar (R' Zalman Leib) developments which are nearby off Cross Street.

Application SD 1356 was presented to the Planning Board on January 15 and February 19, 2002.

The application was filed by W.P. Developers and it was represented by Attorney Raymond Shea Esq and Charles Boyles, PE.

The application was for 43 single family townhomes with no basements at all, and a playground, to be built along Chevy Lane.

A total of 103 parking spaces were proposed, most of which would be in front of the proposed townhomes and some would be in a communal parking area which would owned and maintained by a Homeowners Association. On street parking was to be prohibited due to the narrowness of the width of the road.

Upon review of the plans, the Board conditioned the approval on that the applicant should upgrade the playground equipment; widen the southbound shoulder on Route 9 to 11 feet wide to permit safe ingress and egress to the site; lengthen the left hand turning lane onto Route 9 to at least 100 feet to allow for additional stacking of vehicles; install a board-on-board fence along the northerly and southerly property lines so as to provide additional buffering to the neighboring properties; provide a concrete patio to the rear of each townhomes; provide a 6 foot high privacy fence in between each townhome; and provide enclosures for each of the trash areas.

Additionally, the Board conditioned the approval on the applicant installing no parking signage along the roadway, and that sheds and other accessory structures (does this include Sukkahs?🤔) and any additional fencing will not be permitted due to the small lot area. The Board further directed the applicant to provide a copy of the Board's Resolution of Approval to each of the prospective purchasers so as to provide them with notice of the conditions of this approval.

Subsequently, on August 21 and September 18, 2007, C Hook LLC (owned by Marshall Weissman) presented to the Planning Board a revised plan for this development. This application was presented under Application SD 1356B.

The revised application was for 7 multiple unit townhouse buildings totalling 41 units, with 3 bedrooms and basements.

They noted that based on the New Jersey RSIS requirement of 2.4 parking spaces per unit, their application requires 98 parking spaces and they are proposing 114, of which there will be 2 spaces in front of each house, and an additional 32 across 3 communal parking lots in the middle of the development.

On August 21 this revised application was represented by Attorney Raymond Shea Esq and Charles Boyles, PE.

They requested a waiver from providing sidewalk along the Route 9 frontage. They noted that their playground meets the required 5% open space ordinance. They did not propose a shul because, "the applicant contends there are sufficient community facilities available."

This application provided a cul-de-sac that technically complies with RSIS standards but does not provide the 55 foot bulb school buses require for a turn-around. Therefore, the applicant agreed to provide a bus shelter on Route 9 so the kids would have a place to wait for their bus.

The Board expressed concern that there was insufficient parking for the basements to be used as separate rental apartments, and that school buses would not fit on this narrow road.

In response, the applicant's professionals requested to carry the application so they could revise the plans to address the Board's concerns.

At the following meeting, the applicant returned with revised plans, and replaced Mr. Boyles with Brian Flannery.

Mr. Flannery presented revised plan that reduced the units by 1 in order to increase the diameter of the cul-de-sac bulb to 55 feet to be able to accommodate bus travel.

In response to the Board's concerns over insufficient parking for separate rental apartments in the basements, Mr. Flannery agreed that the basements would be "for storage space only".

Mr. Flannery further agreed to eliminate the Route 9 frontage sidewalk waiver.

Basswood Drive was presented on June 9, 2015 to the Lakewood Planning Board as SD 2007. The application was submitted by Times Square Holdings LLC (which is owned by Sharon Dachs).

This application, which was presented by Adam Pfeffer Esq and Brian Flannery, PE, was for 26 duplex units along the new cul-de-sac bulb road. Each unit would contain 4 off-street parking spaces.

Curb and sidewalk was proposed. A waiver was requested from paving Biltmore Avenue.

No shul or playground was provided with this application.

Subsequently, due to environmental constraints, the NJDEP required the number of units to be reduced to 18. The Lakewood Planning Board approved the reduced plan in April 2018.

The northern side of Elmhurst Blvd was presented to the Planning Board as SD 2008.

The application was submitted by Berkshire Investments Holdings (which is also owned by Sharon Dachs) and it was represented by Adam Pfeffer Esq and Brian Flannery, PE.

This application was originally for 20 duplex units and a storm water management basin at the end of Elmhurst Blvd (near Tova Drive). 4-off street parking spaces would be provided for each unit along Elmhurst Blvd which was already paved for the adjacent Elmwood Village development.

This application was also proposed with no shul and no playground.

At this point, taking note of all the other homes which would be built next door, the Board declared it was high time for a shul, and conditioned the approval that one unit needed to be used for a shul, and that the applicant should provide "as much parking as possible for the shul". To ensure that the shul actually gets built, the Board restricted the applicant from receiving Certificate of Occupancies on any of these residential homes until the Shul is constructed.

The Board also required the applicant to widen the pavement along Elmhurst Blvd to 32 feet.

Subsequently, due to environmental constraints, the NJDEP required the development to be reduced to 13 duplex units.

Site clearing on the Elmhurst Blvd homes began back in January 2019. Installation of utilities and construction of the homes then got dragged out over several years.

Construction on the homes is now basically complete and the homes are ready to move in, except that construction on the shul has not even begun yet!

A couple of months ago, at the direction of the developer who assured that "everything is under control," the home buyers moved ahead with getting mortgages and initial contracts.

Since then, Township officials have stuck to their guns in enforcing the Planning Board's condition that no Certificate of Occupancy be issued until the shul is constructed.

At this point it seems that the home buyers have learned of the farce as some have formally cancelled their pending contracts, public records obtained by FAA News show.

The now-cancelled home buyers were represented by Yisroel Karas Esq, General Counsel of Madison Title Agency LLC.

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