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Lakewood Township's Planning Board was scheduled tonight to hold a public hearing on Congregation Talmud Torah Toras Yechiel's application.

However, facing continued heavy opposition from the neighbors - who have retained Teaneck Attorney Jan Meyer Esq. - the school has now adjourned the application to Tuesday, November 28, 2023, FAA News has learned.

Back in 2017, the Board granted minor subdivision and major site plan approval to Zichron Chaim, Inc for construction of their school on New Hampshire Avenue south of Oak Street.

The site plan has been constructed, however, apparently the subdivision was never perfected and filed, and by now it has expired.

Congregation Talmud Torah Toras Yechiel is now reapplying for the same minor subdivision approval already granted to Zichron Chaim. (Likely they will return to the Board for a future site plan application on the Oak Street portion of the parcel, as shown below):

The application is represented by Attorney Miriam Weinstein Esq. and Engineer Joseph Couciba of KBA Engineering Services LLC.

As previously reported here on FAA News, neighbors who are opposed to the application have retained Mr. Meyer to represent their opposition.

Ahead of the originally planned public hearing of the application, Mr. Meyer wrote to the Board:

Please advised that this letter is addressing a threshold issue related to the application.

Our client objects to the request of the applicant to rely on a prior application that took place more than 5 years ago. Quite a lot has changed as to the conditions in or around the relevant property as well as the use is also changed. We ask the Board to assure that full and complete testimony of the applicant be brought before the Board before any determination can be made by the Board on this application.

Moreover, the retention of my services may necessitate allowing me to bring my Licensed Planner and Engineer to further testify in support of my clients.

At that point, the school consented to adjourn the application to tonight.

Ahead of tonight's scheduled public hearing, Mr. Meyer sent the following follow-up letter to the Board:

The applicant is coming before the Board with “unclean hands."

Quite a lot has changed as to the conditions in and around the relevant property, and in addition, the intended use is also changed.

Specifically, I would like to direct the Boards attention to the fact that there have been no construction plans (they do exist) submitted for the almost finished structure on the property. That may actually be by design, since the current structure is different than the structure the Board examined during the prior approval process, by the prior applicant (Zichron Chaim) years ago. The prior application stated that there would only be a two floor school facility with finished basement and an attic for storage, This is no longer the case. The structure is a three floor structure, unfinished at this point, but, now set up for real school use on the third floor as well (allegedly without a required sprinkler system installed on the third floor). The applicant must bring in advance of a hearing before this Board, the old preliminary construction plans and provide the actual as built or current construction plans for comparison before the Board allows this applicant’s hearing to go forward.

Secondly, the resolution dated February 20, 2018 granting certain relief also indicated that “should the property owner desire to use the basement for anything other than storage and mechanical uses, he agrees (to) return to the Board for approval of the change of use. This current structure is apparently designed for the use of the basement uses other than storage and mechanical issues. (It also begs the question, of why does a school need both a basement of 5,530 SF and a 3rd floor of 4,262 SF for storage.)

Thirdly, the change of use, is already intended to take place. The initial operation was a girls school (Zichron Chaim) and now it is intended to become a boys school with obviously different needs and hours of operation. The applicant must bring the school operator and the owner to testify as to the operations and management of the school. 

Fourth, the operator is also using the property next door on 1474 Oak Street, Block 1159.03 Lot 17 as a boys school - Tiferes Yechiel, - and in fact added another structure for the use of the school. We are making the inquiry to the Board, if such school use was approved located in the R-20 Zone? The initial and original intent was to use the property as parking for the main building on New Hampshire.

Fifth, the operator or applicant is using an additional property for school use located on the residential street at 723 Coral Avenue. Such unlawful use must cease immediately. Teachers and students are currently walking back and forth between 1474 Oak street location and 723 Coral Avenue through the backyard and crossing over the 712 New Hampshire property. It is a clear violation to use the residential property as offices and/or class rooms for the other properties. In addition there is a grave safety concern, since there is an open pool creating a hazardous condition and a violation of State Law. 

Sixth, the 1474 Oak Street school, Tiferes Yechiel, is currently using the 712 New Hampshire unfinished structure as a lunch room for the boys. This is a clear violation of both construction and safety codes. This could G-d forbid cause injury to the students and must be stopped immediately.

Seventh, the parking does not seem to be adequate, as well as the bus lanes and other school requirements are nowhere to be found in this application. The applicant must demonstrate that they are compliant with section 18-906 of the Township Ordinance.

Eighth, given the new traffic and commercial building in the immediate vicinity, a traffic study must be presented to the board. It is clear that traffic patterns and the impact from the area did change drastically over the last many years.

These are just some of the issues, we believe must be addressed with the Board.

My office did reach out, through counsel, with some of the concerns in order for the parties to discuss and come to some agreement, but such attempt was flatly rejected.


Facing this heavy opposition, the school has adjourned the public hearing on their application until Tuesday, November 28.

This is not the first exciting episode regarding this application.

As previously reported here on FAA News, this application was permitted to be put on the Board's agenda despite that the Certificate of Ownership of Applicant was submitted blank.

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