Lakewood Township's Planning Board is set to consider applications for two additional yeshivos to be located in the Newport Avenue area off Cross Street.

One application was scheduled to be heard tonight, Tuesday, September 5. The second application is scheduled to be heard at the Board's next public hearing on Tuesday, September 19. As tonight's meeting was cancelled, both of these applications are now scheduled to be heard on September 19.

These new schools are in addition to Nachlas Bais Yaakov and a child care center which already received approvals in this area, and in addition to Yeshiva Gedola of South Jersey which is already located in this area.

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

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.

Additionally, Yeshiva Gedola of Monmouth County has submitted Application # SP-2518 to construct a Beis Medrash yeshiva with a dormitory at 160 Doria Avenue.

The architectural plans which have been submitted depict a Beis Medrash with no square footage listed on the first floor, an Ezras Noshim with no square footage listed on the second floor, and a 2,332 sq foot dining room adjacent to a large 1,493 "kitchen/storage room." The building will also contain a total of 26 dormitory rooms spread across all floors.

An off-street parking lot with 10 parking spaces is planned for the project. Site lighting is proposed consisting of pole mounted fixtures and a wall
light for the parking area.

The total tract of this property contains 2.2568 acres with an existing single-story single family residence, a shed, and an in-ground pool, serviced by an asphalt driveway.

The plan is for this residence to remain to be used for the Rabbi's residence. By keeping this residence on the same lot as the school, the residence will likely be tax exempt.

No curb or sidewalk currently exist along Doria Avenue but are proposed with this application. However, there are many proposed access points in the rear of the building without sidewalk access.
Furthermore, no connecting sidewalk access between the street and building is proposed.

Street lighting exists. There is underground electric on the road and natural gas is available. However, sanitary sewer and potable water are not present, therefore, offsite utility improvements will be required. New Jersey American Water Company approval will be required for this required work.

Stormwater management facilities, including underground infiltration, have been proposed for the facility.

Some landscaping is also proposed. The Board Engineer is recommending that the Board make landscaping recommendations which should then be forwarded to the Shade Tree Commission for review and comments.

The site is situated in the R-40 (Single Residential zone). The use of a Yeshiva is permitted, however, as reported here on FAA News, Judge Ford has ruled that the Township Committee has not deemed dormitories to be a permitted use in the residential zoning district, therefore it's unclear how the Planning Board can even decide that they have jurisdiction to approve this use.

The applicant is seeking a variance for minimum front yard setback of 57.36 feet where 70 feet is required.

The application also seeks a design waiver from providing a 20 foot buffer to adjoining lots as required in a residential district. The Board Engineer has noted that no fencing or additional landscaping is proposed to justify the buffer relief.

In addition, the application seeks a design waiver from providing street trees. The Board Engineer has recommended that the Board deny this waiver request.

This application has been postponed until the Board's next public hearing on Tuesday, September 19.

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. Newport, Bellevue, and Doria Avenues all have only about 20 foot pavement widths. Typical new roads in Lakewood have 32 foot pavement widths.

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."

We are now eagerly waiting to see if the Planning Board will perhaps figure out this time how to get the "assurance" of a second road actually upheld "physically."

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1 comment:

001 said...

Seems very typical lol
FYI The planning committee meeting was cancelled today and the agenda was pushed off until next meeting to be held in the 19th