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Back in March 2022, Abe Auerbach of Regency Development confidently assured the Lakewood Planning Board that while there were 3 more schools coming to the Newport Avenue area, "we are actively pursuing 'several ways' to get an additional entranceway to Newport."

Since that time, every school coming to this area has kicked the can further down the road.

Tonight, the Board firmly said, "the buck stops here. We need to see real live action!"

Toras Zev High School presented Application # SP-2528 to construct a mesivta on Wenstrom Avenue.

The application was represented by Attorney Adam Pfeffer Esq. and Engineer Brian Flannery.

The 1.187 acres site currently contains an existing two story dwelling which will remain on the premises for a rabbi's residence.

The existing garage is to be removed.

The construction project includes a two story high school with a finished basement, a parking area with 18 off-street parking spaces, and a basketball court at the southern corner of the site.

The application requires the following variances: Minimum front yard setback (Wenstrom Avenue) as 50 feet is proposed where 70 feet is required; Minimum rear yard setback of 14.96 feet is proposed where 30 feet is required.

There is an additional application pending for Yeshiva Gedola of Monmouth County to construct a Beis Medrash yeshiva with a dormitory at 160 Doria Avenue.

The key issue with both of these applications is that vehicular access to both schools will be from a series of substandard width roads from Cross Street. Bellevue, and Doria Avenues all have only about 20 foot pavement widths. Typical new roads in Lakewood have 32 foot pavement widths. Newport Avenue was supposed to be widened by Nachlas Bais Yaakov to 32 feet. Some widening has been done however it was only base paved. Additionally, the concerns have been raised about the quality of the work and that it may not have been paved the full 32 feet.

Back in March 2022, the Planning Board was presented with an application for a large child care center at 220 Newport Avenue.

The application, which was represented by Attorney Miriam Weinstein Esq., was contentious with numerous neighbors presenting pedestrian, traffic safety and congestion concerns, especially as many parents would be driving down the narrow road for pick-up and drop-offs.

Board Member Moshe Raitzik echoed many of the same traffic flow concerns expressed by the neighbors. In response, Builder Abe Auerbach of Regency Development told the Board that "while this is out of our hands" there were "3 more schools coming to 'this area' and we are actively pursuing 'several ways' to get an additional entranceway to Newport Avenue."

At the conclusion of the hearing, Board Chairman Moshe Neiman assured the neighbors that although the Board was going to approve this child care center, "when the next school coming to this block wants to get approved, I'm not saying it will get approved, we may say that we need to first wait until the road has an additional entranceway."

Chairman Neiman also noted that schools will "work harder" to get an additional entranceway to Newport Avenue, saying "the message will get out there - because Mr. Auerbach is here now - that if you want to build a school here, let's work on opening Newport Avenue out to Jackson Township or Franklin Boulevard."

However, "somehow," when the next school applications came to the Board, this "assurance" magically disappeared.

As previously reported here on FAA News, back in August 2022, Yeshiva Gedola of South Jersey presented their Site Plan application. When the Board asked about the additional road. Attorney Adam Pfeffer responded simply "I was not the attorney on that other application. The only other access would be from Jackson and that township would never agree. Plus, this school is a permitted use."

And just like that, the Board let the Yeshiva application slide right by with zero provisions for an additional access road!

Additionally, as previously reported here on FAA News, the Planning Board approved Nachlas Bais Yaakov's Site Plan application on Newport Avenue without any provisions for the previously "assured" second access road after Engineer Brian Flannery pushed back, saying "there was discussion about doing a second exit onto Bellevue, but I don’t think that will help and Scott Kennel will testify to that. "

So... Up until now it's been "promises made, promises not kept."

However, tonight the Board pushed back real hard!

Board Chairman Moshe Neiman immediately demanded to know what's going on with the secondary road we were promised.

R' Chaim Zev Edelman of Toras Zev flimsily attempted to say that "we chipped in with the other schools coming to the block as a joint venture. The Township is also involved and they even hired a special attorney to deal with everything."

The Board pressed on for some hard details about what road improvements this joint venture has in store for us, saying that "already last year we were in agreement that we will not approve any additional schools here without provisions for a secondary road."

R' Edelman didn't have much to answer. First he tried to say that he had some papers he could send the Board after the meeting. Then he switched the story that the Township are really the ones planning everything and he needs to ask them what's going on.

Mr. Neiman pressed on, saying that Mayor Coles previously sent him an email telling him simply that "the township committee is working with these schools... to ensure that appropriate planning is done to provide for infrastructure. To that end, we have engaged our engineers to examine traffic and roadway needs and we expect at a minimum to see road widening and at least one additional means of ingress/egress for local traffic. Any pending approvals at your board might be well served to reflect and acknowledge this effort..."

Mr. Neiman stated that the mayor's directive is for all "pending approvals... to reflect... this effort," and therefore the Board needs to see what "this effort" entails prior to approving any further applications.

R' Edelman argued, "I will have students either way. Currently I need to keep them in trailers. It's in your hands to decide whether or not I can move them next year into a real building."

The Board was not at all impressed and demanded to "be shown the hardware" before they approve the application!

The Board tabled the continuation of this application until October 10. Yeshiva Gedola of Monmouth County's application was also adjourned until October 10.

WATCH: R' Edelman trying hard to sell his situation to the Board.

WATCH: Heavy traffic on Newport Avenue tonight due to parents night at Nachlas Bais Yaakov.

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Anonymous said...

These guys got some balls when they think their היליגע בחורים aren't watching!

Why do school developers think they can keep blaming everyone else?

001 said...

Welcome to Lakewood.
We definitely need change- time to make your vote count!!