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Yeshiva Tiferes Chaim has failed to answer a lawsuit served against them by the Lakewood Township Municipal Utilities Authority (LTMUA or MUA). The complaint, filed in Ocean County Superior Court, alleges a breach of contract.

The LTMUA serves the major part of the eastern half of Lakewood Township with water and sewer service. Their service area is approximately 11 square miles, and includes 85 miles of water mains.

Yeshiva Tiferes Chaim is located at 924 New Hampshire Avenue. Reb Avrohom Perr is the Menahel. R' Moisha Dovid Perlstein is the Rosh Hamosad.

Back in June 2016, Tiferes Chaim received Township Planning Board approval to construct a new yeshiva building and to convert the existing office building into a dormitory building. The application was represented by Attorney Miriam Weinstein.

The Yeshiva's New Hampshire Avenue campus is located within the LTMUA service area. 

In order to receive the required sanitary sewer and water services, LTMUA (as is typical with such applications) required the yeshiva to construct, at their sole cost, both on-site and off-site sanitary sewer and potable water and potable water systems, including installation of a sewer lateral from the building to the sewer line that was previously constructed on New Hampshire Avenue, and to pay connection fees for the new building.

Typically, all sanitary sewer and water service connection work would need to be constructed prior to the Township issuing a Certificate of Occupancy.

In this case, however, claiming that "it was a few weeks before the start of the new school, and they wanted to get open in time," the Yeshiva requested permission from the MUA to use the existing lateral that was there as part of the little office building on a temporary basis (i.e. to hook up an "extension cord" from the existing building into the new building). The MUA agreed, with the stipulation that, to ensure that they actually do the required construction, the Yeshiva place a bond for the estimated construction cost of $165,673.

In July 2016, the Yeshiva signed a Developer's Agreement with MUA Executive Director Justin Flancbaum, agreeing to complete the required work over a period of 30 days. The estimated construction costs were $165,673. As surety for the construction, the Yeshiva placed a bond through The Guarantee Company for this amount.

Since that time, it appears that none of the required work was actually constructed.

In February 2019, MUA Engineer Adam Ponsi contacted the Yeshiva's Administration inquiring about the status of the work. On March 22, 2019, Rabbi Perlstein contacted Mr. Flancbaum and advised that he was "looking for a contractor to do the work."

On April 10, 2019, Rabbi Perlstein conveyed that he found a contractor and he anticipates completing construction around May 6. MUA officials responded that they require contractors to hold pre-construction meetings. MUA never received any response from the yeshiva's administration.

On August 12, 2019, Attorney Miriam Weinstein representing the yeshiva responded, requesting a 6-month extension on the required work due to the yeshiva's financial situation.

MUA Attorney Adam Pfeffer responded to Mrs. Weinstein that the yeshiva's administration knew that this sewer installation work was required for the construction of the school and this cost should have been included in their original financing of the project.

Subsequently, with the approval of the MUA Board of Commissioners, including Mayor Ray Coles, Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, and Senator Bob Singer, the MUA put the surety company on notice of the default and demanded they make payment for the $165,673. In all this time the surety company failed to send payment.

In response, as previously reported here on FAA News, back in November 2022, the MUA, represented by Adam Pfeffer, filed a lawsuit against Yeshiva Tiferes Chaim and Toronto-based The Guarantee Company, and Wilmington, DE-based Intact Insurance Group, of which they are a subsidiary, alleging breach of contract for failing to do the work as agreed in their Developers Agreement.

The lawsuit, which also seeks legal fees, was filed in Ocean County Superior Court.

In all this time, the yeshiva has failed to answer the lawsuit. The court has now notified the MUA that they have 60 days to formally request that default judgement be entered against the yeshiva or else the lawsuit will be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

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