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On Tuesday night, R' Yeshi Ghoori's Congregation Kollel Zichron Binyamin Yosef, known colloquially as Chavrei Hakollel, received approval from Lakewood Township's Planning Board for their expansion project - with an express condition that their large dining room, which is adjacent to men's and women's coat rooms and rest rooms, and their large and high basement, not be rented out for simcha halls.

Chavrei Hakollel is a learning program geared towards bochurim who learn part-time and work part-time.

The application was represented by Attorney Sam Brown, Esq. and Engineer Brian Flannery.

The site location is 1600 - 1620 West County Line Road, adjacent to Yeshivas Stolin, near the Jackson Township border.

The two-story frame dwelling which currently exist on both of these lots will be removed to make way for the new buildings.

The Site Plan depicts a two-story building as well as a second one-story structure.

The two-story main building will be approximately 11,564 sq feet in area, and will contain a Bais Medrash of 3,736 sq feet on the second floor, and a large dining room consisting of 2,582 sq feet on the first floor. 

The second one-story structure will be 5,160 sq feet in area, and will contain a mix of offices and meeting rooms with a large classroom.

The parking lot will contain 84 off-street parking spaces, including 3 ADA spaces. 2 of the proposed ADA spots are van accessible.

The front yard will contain several outdoor seating gazebos, with pedestrian walkways to the buildings.

The Board stipulated that the Kollel should install a concrete median in the centerline of County Line Road West (similar to what was constructed in front of Stolin), to ensure that the driveway access should be only right-in/right out.

Curbing and sidewalk in fair condition exist along the County Line Road West frontage. Overhead electric lines exist along the northeast side of the right-of-way. Potable water is beneath the southwest side of the highway. Gas is available underneath the northeast side of the street. Sanitary sewer is not available for the site. The site is currently served by an existing well and septic system.

Site improvements are proposed for the buildings, including paving, curb, sidewalk, gazebos, retaining walls, drainage, utilities, lighting, and landscaping.

The Board approved a Front Yard Setback of 30.86 feet whereas 50 feet is required; an Aggregate Side Yard Setback of 22.10 feet whereas 25 feet is required; and Building Coverage of 21% where 20% is the maximum.

The Board also granted a design waiver to provide a 10 foot wide buffer to adjoining nonresidential zoned uses or properties whereas a 20 foot wide buffer is required.

Additionally, the Board also granted a variance to permit parking in a required buffer.

The large dining room is on the first floor, just past the lobby, while the Bais Medrash is on the second floor. Adjacent to the dining room there are men's and women's coat rooms and rest rooms.

The Board questioned the large size of the dining room and parking lot.

Board Member David Helmreich noted that there is a 5,000 sq foot basement for no defined use. Moreover, the basement has a proposed height of 14 feet.

Mr. Helmreich said that an "undefined" basement room of this size and height "screams to us that this will be a simcha hall."

Mr. Flannery feebly responded that "the basement is only intended to be used for storage and utilities."

Mr. Brown attempted to argue that "it wouldn't even make any sense for The Kollel to have a simcha hall, as using this building for any reason other than for the students is a contradictory to being helpful to the students."

Mr. Helmreich waived him off, saying, "we have heard this before. The fact of the matter is that this will be a simcha hall.

Mr. Helmreich asked that the basement height should be restricted to 7 feet, to alley the Board's fears that the basement would contain a simcha hall.

Mr. Flannery pushed back, saying "no that won't work."

(Of note is that Mr. Brown also represented Congregation Neustadt on East County Line, and he also represented that that shul would also not have a simcha hall. In fact there is simcha hall in that shul.)

The Board approved the application, but vehemently restricted the building containing any rental hall. The Board also recommended that the Kollel install adequate site lighting in the parking lot as it will be used regularly at night.

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