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After nearly 2 hours of testimony, as Board Member James Hurley said he simply "wasn't yet ready to make a decision on the application," Jackson Township's Zoning Board on Wednesday decided to schedule a continuation of the hearing on Kehilla Dbrookwood IV's application for Conditional use relief and Site Plan approval.

The continuation of the hearing on the application has been scheduled for October 4, 2023.

The shul's application was represented tonight by Attorney Donna Jennings Esq., Engineer Eric Halpert of Haler Consulting, Architect Naftoli Gut of Gut & Vann Architecture and Consulting, and Traffic Expert Scott Kennel of McDonough & Rea Associates.

The application is additionally represented by Planner Christine Cofone of Cofone Consulting Group, LLC who will present her testimony at the next hearing.

The project site is at 1231 Aldrich Road at the intersection with East Connecticut Concourse.

The existing single family home on the property will remain and be used for the Rabbi's residence. (The property's existing garage and parking area will be removed to make way for the new parking lot.)

The new shul building will be constructed as 3,411 sq foot addition onto the existing home.

The architectural plans depict a 2,099 sq foot Bais Medrash and 582 sq foot library on the first floor. The basement will contain a children's play area, a 1,420 sq foot simcha hall with a warming kitchen, and mikvahs for men and women.

The Township's ordinances require houses of worship to provide off-street parking of 1 space per 50 sq feet of main congregant seating area. A 2,099 sq feet Bais Medrash requires 42 parking spaces. The existing single family home requires an additional 2 parking spaces.

The Site Plan depicts a total of 50 parking spaces, in excess of the Township's requirements. The parking lot will be accessible through driveways on both Aldrich Road and East Connecticut Concourse. The Board stipulated that the Aldrich Road driveway should be right in/right out only.

The shul's representatives told the Board that only 20-30 members attend services during the week and the shul only has a higher capacity on Shabbos when there is no driving.

The shul's representatives added that the property is particularly suited for the shul as the nearby neighbors would not need to cross Aldrich Road to reach the shul.

The shul's original plan did not include a driveway on East Connecticut Concourse as that small property is owned by the Township who was, at the time unwilling to sell it to the shul. However, the Township's Fire Official requested that the plans be amended to include a secondary driveway on East Connecticut Concourse, therefore, the Township has agreed to grant the shul an easement through their property in order to provide this secondary driveway access.

The Board stipulated that no parking signs need to installed on both Aldrich Road and East Connecticut Concourse along the property's frontage.

The project includes hooking into city sewer and water.

The property is located in the R-15 residential zone. Houses of worship are a conditional use in this zoning district, provided that the required minimum lot area shall be two acres.

Kehilla Dbrookwood IV's property only contains a lot area of 1.49 acres. As such, in addition to Preliminary and Final Major Site Plan Approval, the application also requires Conditional Use relief.

Another condition is that "no principal building shall be located closer than 100 feet to any public street right-of-way and no closer than 50 feet to any rear or side property line." The shul's application seeks Conditional Use relief to provide a front yard setback of only 56.36 feet.

The shul's application further seeks Conditional Use relief from the minimum side yard setback buffer (15 feet where 50 feet is required) and impervious coverage requirements; and Bulk variance relief to permit parking in the front yard setback.

Mr. Kennel presented existing traffic volumes and his analysis of projected traffic the shul will add to the adjoining roadways. Board members stated that their personal experience has shown them that there already is substantial amount of more traffic than as he presented. Board Attorney Ryan Murphy Esq. pushed back, reminding the Board that the Municipal Land Use Law does not permit the Board to consider existing off-site traffic conditions.

A Board member asked Ms. Jennings if the Rabbi's residence will now become tax exempt as a result of being attached to the shul. Ms. Jennings responded that she does not know, but either way, such consideration is not under the land use board's jurisdiction.

This application is a real big deal to the neighbors of this community as there is currently no proper shul in the entire Brookwood area.

As more and more families began moving in to this area and the closest Lakewood shul became inundated, a small group of Bnei Torah came together and started a small Shabbos minyan in an unfinished garage. As the minyan grew, the members chipped in and took out a loan to renovate a larger garage into a proper shul and Bais Medrash.

As the community continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the shul administration has been planning to expand by purchasing an existing house and expanding it.

Block 6002 Lots 2 and 3 are included in this Site Plan. Public records obtained by FAA News indicate that lot 2 was sold on May 16, 2023 for $1,050,000 by Neil and Gae Margolies to Chaim Yosef Heimovits and Mattisyahu Nussbaum; and lot 3 is still owned by Neil and Gae Margolies.

As the hour neared 11:00pm and they still need to present their Planning testimony, and Board Member James Hurley said he simply "wasn't yet ready to make a decision on the application," the Zoning Board voted to continue hearing the application on October 4, 2023.

No legal notice will be sent to the neighbors regarding the next public hearing.

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