Join Our Telegram Channel


School developers are working hard to ensure that our roads do not receive necessary traffic improvements - or at least to ensure that they do not need to chip in their fair share of traffic improvements, FAA News has learned.

Back in July 2021, Bnos Devora received Site Plan approval from Lakewood Township's Planning Board for construction of a new two-story, 232,903 sq feet, wedding hall and girls high school building, adjacent to their existing elementary school building.

Engineer Brian Flannery confidently testified that "the applicant is not proposing a large wedding hall but rather a school that has rooms that will be used for other purposes, similar to other school."

The plans included a parking lot with 366 spaces.

The Board's Resolution of Approval specifically stipulated, "The Board approved only one banquet hall. The parking and circulation took into account only one hall. If the applicant desires to create additional banquet space, Board approval must first be obtained."

This new wedding hall is being developed by the Schron family as an "affordable simcha hall initiative."

Subsequently, in July 2022, LNN reported that the developers of the school have purchased additional land for this project which would permit for an expansion of the proposed parking lot.

All site plans which propose a quarter of acre of impervious coverage also require approval from the Ocean County Planning Board.

Bnos Devora presented their application to the County in December 2022. Curiously, they only mentioned the plan presented to the Lakewood Planning Board in July 2021 - not the expanded project on which LNN already reported earlier in July 2022.

Very importantly, the Ocean County Planning Board granted contingent approval of the application - with a major condition intended to ensure that traffic impact of the banquet hall is properly considered, and, if warranted, that appropriate traffic improvements are required.

County officials conditioned the approval on that the applicant "analyze the Oak Street and New Hampshire Avenue intersection to determine impacts to County facilities during peak hours and also during off-peak multi-function hall events, as this is one of many halls in the area creating traffic peak outside typical peak hours... Construction shall not commence until all conditions have been met."

I.e. The County told Bnos Devora that they need to provide a traffic study which accurately counts the traffic from their proposed banquet hall. The purpose of this traffic study is to give the County the wherewithal to either require the developers of the school to provide traffic improvements, or at least to pay their fair share.

On Tuesday night, the developers of Bnos Devora returned to the Lakewood Planning Board. They presented a request under "correspondence" seeking to waive the condition of approval and now permit for a second banquet hall.

The letter of correspondence stated simply that "they want to enhance the functionality of the site. They have arranged a parking easement of an additional 120 parking spaces from the existing school located at 360 Oak Street. Additionally, they will agree that they will not allow any events to be held there once the new building on 400 Oak Street is complete and ready for multiple events."

In essence, they are proposing to use an existing parking lot of over 120 spots for the new, second banquet hall. In exchange, they will terminate use of the existing banquet hall inside the existing school.

Board members Yair Stern and David Helmreich expressed numerous concerns with the proposal, including that adding 120 parking spaces for an entire second wedding hall will simply be insufficient.

They added that the existing property "simply does not work."

They also highlighted that while this request was noticed to the public, it was coming under "correspondence" without full plans, and it certainly does not fall within the purview of the Board's written "correspondence policy" which states that "correspondence", is for "miniscule, insignificant changes which could really be approved administratively by the Board's professionals but the Board reviews such requests anyways to ensure that their professionals are carrying out the original intent of the board."

Adding a second banquet hall does not appear to comply with the Board's written correspondence policy, they vehemently argued.

The rest of the Board endorsed the application and it was approved.

Importantly, Abe Auerbach of Regency Development vehemently told the Board that they are not planning to submit this revised plan to the Ocean County Planning Board.

Why not??

Likely, because then the County will require additional traffic improvements at the Oak Street/ New Hampshire Avenue intersection - something for which the developers of Bnos Devora clearly want to avoid paying their fair share.

That would also explain why, in December 2022, despite LNN already knowing about the expansion plan, the developers of Bnos Devora only presented to the County a plan for one banquet hall...

To join a FAA News WhatsApp Group, click here.

To join the FAA News WhatsApp Status, click here.


Anonymous said...

This is similar to Bnos Yaakov at 2 Kent Rd. May 2022 they were granted an ok to build a 15 car parking lot at 18 Cathedral Dr so they could open their 3rd floor addition. They never built the parking lot, yet cars continue to park there on the grass and within the planning board mandated setbacks. Part of the ok was a resolution that there would be no simcha hall at the school. At the meeting Pfeffer stated over and over there would be no simcha hall even though the school was seeking donations for it on their website. Since that time the school has purchased 20 Cathedral Dr and removed the house and most of the trees from the property. This was all done very quickly and was completed on 11/4 just in time for a engagement party that night at the now opened illegal simcha hall. The township came in and put a stop work order, but the school ignored the order and had more parties on 11/19 and 11/26. The county was advised and so far as can be seen has done nothing. This should be an easy thing to shut down because there is no township approval for the hall and even though the schools website depicts it as a auditorium if you actually walk in and look, it is clearly a simcha hall.

Anonymous said...

The “Correspondence” hearing on Bnos Devorah’s second huge banquet hall was a disgrace.

The Board’s policy explicitly states that on correspondence matters - since they’re so insignificant - they have no obligation to allow public comment. Although the board can decide during the hearing to make an exception to their policy, the public is already discouraged from participating due to the slim chance that ‘ulay efshar ken zein..’ they might possibly get to express their legitimate concerns. In short, this board allowed the less-than-ehrlich applicant to disenfranchise members of Lakewood’s public in a matter of great impact.

This is especially disturbing because Abe Auerbach of Regency Development is the # 1 trickster (followed closely by Schmuckler of Newlines) when it comes to dealing with the County. He’s done many such “honest” things like this in the past.

In the end, after he (together with SCK, Regency’s co-owner) finishes walking away with his millions, the rest of us Lakewood residents will be forced to endure an incredibly unfair amount of traffic nightmares.

And all because he is deliberately evading his responsibility (together with the applicant) to pay for appropriate traffic improvements. Throw all these the bums out!

It’s not okay said...

The Lakewood Planning Board has reached a new low. They approved a gigantic wedding hall with severely deficient parking UNDER CORRESPONDENCE!

That is so crazy!!

Of course Justin Flancbaum was the first the push it through as a favor for his personal attorney, Adam Pfeffer.

Neimann then said.. yeah, why not screw over Lakewooders even more.

Then Akerman played dumb - even though he was fully aware that Lakewood’s committee recently passed an ordinance requiring a more sensible parking ratio for banquet halls of 1:1, He also voted to approve this wedding hall without even seeing what the plans look like or how many people can fit into the new hall.

As for Helmreich and Yair Stern, they disappointed by not having the guts to put their money where their mouth was and vote NO. Their simple abstentions were very disappointing.

All the traffic headaches we will be forced to suffer with in the future, will be thanks to this group of low quality appointees.