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The Lakewood Planning Board heard extensive testimony tonight regarding Sunset Road Sephardic Congregation's Site Plan application. Due to the 9pm curfew, the Board will continue hearing the application at their next public hearing on June 20.

The shul, located at 220 Sunset Road near Liberty Drive is seeking to demolish the residential house they currently use "ad hoc" for their Shul and Kollel and replace it with a new 2-story building.

The revised application proposes a building footprint of about 5,700 square feet in area. The plans indicate that the proposed house of worship will contain a main sanctuary of more than 2,900 square feet on the 1st floor. 

The application meets the total lot area requirement of 12,000 sq feet, and the lot width requirement of 100 feet.

The Site Plan seeks the following variances: Minimum Side yard setback of 9 feet where 10 feet is required; Aggregate side yard setback of 19 feet where 25 feet is required; Minimum rear yard setback of 5 feet where 20 feet is required; 48% building coverage is proposed where the maximum allowed is 25%; Buffer variance of "0" feet where 20 feet is required; 6 off street parking spaces are proposed where 37 are required.

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 shul is represented by Jackson Attorney Adam Pfeffer Esq.

Attorney Jan Meyer Esq is representing neighbors who are opposed to the application, especially due to the major parking variance.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Mr. Meyer wrote a letter to the Board opposing the granting of several submission waivers, and arguing that the waivers being sought are a threshhold issue which the neighbors are opposing, and the requested waiver indicates that the application is actually incomplete for the Board's review.

At tonight's hearing, the Board rejected this argument, noting that the submission waivers being requested are extremely routine for the Board.

At the same time, Chairman Moshe Neiman urged the applicant to table to the application to see how they can somehow get more parking. Mr. Pfeffer objected and said that his client has the right to present his application in full to the Board.

Under examination, the Rabbi testified that the existing shul has about 1,400 sq feet of sanctuary space. He also testified that there are currently 66 paying members who attend services regularly, as well as additional non-paying members who attend less frequently. The Rabbi also admitted that often, the congregants overflow into additional back rooms.

As previously reported here on FAA News, citing a major corruption risk that exists when there is a conflict of interest, Mr. Meyer formally demanded that Board Member Justin Flancbaum recuse himself from sitting on the application, citing his major of conflict of interest with Attorney Adam Pfeffer Esq., the attorney representing the shul.

In light of this exposure, Mr. Flancbaum did not attend tonight's hearing.

The application also requires approval from the Ocean County Planning Board. As previously reported here on FAA News, the application was already presented to the Ocean County Planning Board, and after hearing from neighbors about their grave concerns over the inadequate parking that already exists on the shul's current site, and how the situation will only get exacerbated if the building expansion plan is approved, County officials agreed to halt approval of the expansion plan.

Chairman Neiman noted this issue and asked the applicant's professionals how they anticipate receiving County approval.

Shockingly, Mr. Flannery denied that the County halted the application, and instead claimed that they submitted their application to the County and simply didn't yet hear back from them.

The Planning Board will continue hearing testimony on this application at their next public hearing which is set to take place June 20 at Town Hall, 231 Third Street. The meeting begins at 6:00pm.

Mr. Meyer is the chairman of the Teaneck Zoning Board.

In 2022, Mr. Meyer was successful in getting Ocean County Superior Court Judge Marlene Ford to toss out a Lakewood Township Zoning Board approval of a Use Variance for homes on undersized lots on Spruce Street after the Board refused to postpone the hearing so the neighbors could have the opportunity to retain their own engineer to review the plans.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Mr. Meyer is currently representing the Spruce Street neighbors who are opposed to a child care center application on that same site.

As the news was first broken here on FAA News, Mr. Meyer successfully got Judge Ford to overturn a Planning Board approval of Yeshiva Toras Chaim's dormitory, finding that the Township's ordinances only permit dormitories in Planned Educational Campuses (which require 3 acres).

Mr. Meyer also represented neighbors opposed to a major application with 125 homes on Cross Street and James Street. As previously reported here on FAA News, Mr. Meyer was successful in getting the Board to vote that they lack jurisdiction to hear the application.

Additionally, as the news was very first broken here on FAA News, Mr. Meyer is currently representing Jackson residents who are suing the Township to overturn their land swap with Mordechai Eichorn.

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Zeh Lo Nachon said...

So, because the Rabbi wants to have a monopoly on all the sefardim in the area to daven by him, the neighbors which have been living there for decades have to suffer??

This site is just way too small for his big chalomot. Why can't he allow for other sefardi shuls to open up for the mitpalelim? That's really the only sensible thing to do. Either that, or he should buy a much larger lot.

Anonymous said...

Zeh Lo Nachon you should go and do a little research before you disparage the Rabbi of the shul. Where exactly is your proof that the Rabbi wants to have a monopoly on all the sefardim. No one in the area is preventing anyone from opening another shul - you made that up. Everything you wrote makes absolute zero sense and is straight rechilus. I think you should ask the moderator to take down your post and you have to ask mechila from the Rabbi for what you posted.
As for the story itself there is more to the story than than is being reported here. Get your facts straight before you open your mouth especially when it is against a choshuva Rov.