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On Tuesday night, Lakewood Township's Planning Board granted Preliminary & Final Major Site Plan approval to Congregation Kehillas Hearthstone Inc. for an expansion of the existing shul site located on Hearthstone Drive and Jenna Court.

Attorney Miriam Weinstein Esq. told the Board that the neighborhood has grown by leaps and bounds, and they have a youth minyan for the teenagers which has by now overrun the Ezras Noshim; the expansion will provide a third floor for dedicated space for the youth minyan which will also be used as a study hall for men during the week. There will also be a Kiddush room in the basement which the shul agreed to restrict for Shabbos use only.

The Site Plan depicts a three-story addition with a finished basement to the existing two-story shul building.

The proposed addition will add a footprint of approximately 3,654 sq feet to the existing building. The proposed addition to the shul will increase the main sanctuary to 4,992 sq feet in area. A new 2,246 sq feet simcha hall will be constructed in the basement.

Concrete sidewalk and curb exist in fair condition along both Hearthstone Drive and Jenna Court.

The existing parking area for Jenna Court will be revised to propose 4 off-street parking spaces. An existing driveway from Jenna Court is indicated to be removed and replaced with a proposed off-street parking area consisting of 3 spaces, 1 of which will be utilized as an electric vehicle spot, and 1 for a van accessible ADA stall. This brings the total proposed off-street parking to 12 spaces accounting for the electric vehicle credit.

With the new expansion, a total of 97 parking spaces are required.

The project is in the R-12 Single-Family Residential Zone District. Places of worship are permitted in the zone.

The application sought numerous variances and design waivers:

Minimum Front Yard Setback of 26.35 feet where 30 feet is required, Minimum Side Yard Setback of 0.5 feet where 10 feet is required, Maximum Building Coverage of 41.42% where 25% is the maximum, Maximum Building Height of 38.17 feet where 35 feet is the maximum.

Additionally, a design waiver was sought from providing the required 20 feet perimeter buffer.

In addition, no landscaping is proposed, and only an incomplete lighting plan has been provided.

One neighbor opposed the application, saying that the parking variance already causes havoc and will cause even more havoc. He said that the property is simply too small for their big expansion project.

Numerous other neighbors spoke up in favor of the application, saying that their driveways are never blocked by shul members.

At the request of another neighbor, the shul agreed to provide a 12 foot high fence between the property lines.

Board Member Bruce Stern voted against the application, citing the heavy parking variance. The rest of the Board voted in favor of the application.

The project will not require approval from the Ocean County Planning Board because it is not on a County Highway, may not impact County facilities, and includes less than 1 acre of impervious area.

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