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Lakewood Township's Planning Board halted an attempt to - without notice to the neighbors - quietly add a large simcha hall in an already approved school.

The developers of Cheder Toras Zev, represented by Engineer Joe Kociuba, P.E., P.P., received Site Plan approval for the yeshiva's new campus, back on October 31, 2017.

The Board meeting minutes do not appear to mention any proposed banquet hall in the basement.

The Board's Resolution of Approval stipulates that the "Applicant shall resubmit this entire proposal for re-approval should there be any deviation from the terms and conditions of this approval or the documents submitted as part of this application, all of which are made a part heareof and shall be binding on the applicant."

The developers of the Yeshiva now returned to the Board under correspondence seeking a "minor expansion of the previously approved footprint," which turned out to include a banquet hall, with no additional parking.

Typically, when submitting land use board applications, developers are require by the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law to mail legal notices to the neighbors stating "the date, time and place of the hearing, [and] the nature of the matters to be considered."

As explained by the Appellate Division in the landmark 1996 case of Perlmart vs. Lacey Twp Planning Board, the purpose of the notice is to ensure the public is properly apprised "so they may make an informed determination as to whether they should participate in the hearing or at least look more closely at the plans on file."

The Planning Board does, however, have a policy of accepting certain requests under "correspondence" which does not require public notice to the neighbors.

The Board's written policy states "correspondence" is acceptable for "miniscule, insignificant changes" which could really be approved administratively by the Board's professionals but the Board reviews such requests anyways to ensure that their professionals are carrying out the original intent of the board.

In this case, keen-eyed Board members immediately noted that the "correspondence" request appears to be for a 4,000+ sq foot extension including for a banquet hall with no additional parking, and that this request falls way out of the scope of "correspondence."

The newly added truck delivery unloading area also had the appearance that a big banquet hall is quietly in the works for this school campus, Board members also observed.

The Board members stated that enlarging a banquet hall with no additional parking may be an item of concern for the neighbors and therefore it's only fair for them to receive legal notice "to ensure the public is properly apprised so they may make an informed determination as to whether they should participate in the hearing or at least look more closely at the plans on file."

In 2019, under a case known as Lakewood Realty Associates vs. Lakewood Township Planning Board & RD Lakewood LLC, the Appellate Division tossed out a Planning Board approval of a hotel that included a banquet hall and failed to mention this use in the legal notice. The Appellate Division found that by failing to mention a banquet hall in a notice for a hotel, the public notice did not adequately describe "the nature of the matters to be considered." The court was not persuaded by the applicant’s argument that the notice adequately described the proposed use because it listed a hotel, and "hotels often include bars, restaurants, and banquet facilities."

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Anonymous said...

It’s about time!

Let’s see what kind of creative wording the applicant decides to use in his Notice.

Sara said...

Absolutely disgusting!!!
It’s enough that cheder toras zev is ruining the whole (cross st, Newport ave) neighborhood! What’s the point??

Anonymous said...

Are simcha halls even legal in this zone?