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No Decision on West End Synagogue Until 2013

Long Branch Zoning Board of Adjustment hears more testimony from rabbi

 

The public will have until next year to see the resolution of Chabad of the Shore's application to build a large synagogue and other space in West End.

During Monday night's hearing on the application, Long Branch Zoning Board of Adjustment Chairwoman Terry Janeczek said the next time available to hear testimony would be January.

Chabad wishes to build a 2-story building that contains a 200-seat sanctuary, a 200-person capacity multipurpose room with a kitchen on the second floor; and a five classrooms, office space and a room for religious services on the second floor.

The plan would include the demolition of a old movie theater on Ocean Avenue and two stores north of the structure.

A synagogue is not a permitted use in the commercial zone, so Chabad of the Shore is looking to obtain a use variance to use the site and also obtain some minor bulk variances for parking and setbacks.

Rabbi Leibel Shapiro, of Chabad of the Shore, was questioned by the board and West End Business Association attorney Thomas Hirsch.

Rabbi Shapiro reiterated that the there will never be more than 200 people in the building at one point.

"There won't be more than 200 in the building at one time," Rabbi Shapiro said. "That's not the intention of the place and not in our plans for the future."

The city's uniform construction code requires that one parking space be made available for every four people who are seated in a building such as this. The plan calls for 50 parking spaces in the rear of the property, meaning that no more than 200 people can be in the building at one point.

Rabbi Shapiro said larger events would require reservations and that no more than 200 reservations would be taken.

"For events with more than 200 people, we would go elsewhere," he said.

He said a Chabad of the Shore celebration for Rosh Hashanah was held at Ocean Place, and that similar events would be held there if the new synagogue is built.

Rabbi Shapiro said most of the people who come to Chabad of the Shore's current location at 620 and 622 Ocean Avenue, often walk. He said the reason he chose the proposed location was because there is a "tremendous need in the area" and that there was enough parking there to satisfy the city's ordinance for the 200-seat sanctuary and multipurpose room.

Janeczek said she felt that because Chabad of the Shore is looking to grow its congregation and expand, that the building may not be big enough for their purposes.

"In reality, this spot is not big enough for you," Janeczek said. "To me the numbers don't match."

Rabbi Shapiro disagreed.

"I believe the facility will meet our needs with the exception of a few times a year," he said. "We believe it will meet our long-term needs."

Rabbi Shapiro also said he intends to allow the public to use Chabad's parking lot.

"Our intention is to make the parking available to the businesses when we don't need it and as long as it doesn't affect zoning needs," he said. "We are willing to come up with a plan that can benefit everybody."

Board member Robert Dooley said Chabad should check with its insurance carrier to make sure that it is allowed to share the parking with the public, and Janeczek said that could actually be a condition of approval for the case.

Several West End business owners have said they do not agree with the application because of the possible loss of parking for the area and the fact that the building is not a permitted use in the commercial zone.

Others are worried that if the application is approved, that it could affect what is done with the site where several businesses and homes were destroyed by a large fire in February. The site is currently a grass lot, and there have been no applications by any of the former building owners to rebuild at this time.

Janeczek also asked Rabbi Shapiro if Chabad of the Shore is looking into becoming code compliant at it current location. He previously admitted when questioned by the board that religious services are held at that location and that it is not a permitted use.

Janeczek also said she did not believe a building permit was given when Chabad expanded its current location to include two addresses on Ocean Avenue.

"We are working on it now," Rabbi Shapiro said.

"Just make sure whatever can be taken care of is done soon so that we are not dealing with this in February or March or whenever this is decided," Janeczek added.

Carol September 25, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Why, If a new bigger facility is required they have not looked into the Jewish Community Center on Grant Ave in Deal? It has gone bankrupt, is vacant & offers meeting rooms, classrooms, a theatre, swimming pool, gym & plenty of parking.
Cranky HR Guy September 25, 2012 at 10:17 PM
The stated rationale for this location is that there are many people in the immediate area who are not served sufficiently by the 6 other temples all located within 2 miles. There is defunct temple only a few blocks away off of Woodgate Ave which would be a sufficient sized plot to support this facility, likely without the need for so many variances
-She September 26, 2012 at 04:47 AM
"He previously admitted when questioned by the board that religious services are held at that location and that it is not a permitted use". REALLY??? This should have closed ALL considerations! Doing things against the LAW now and clearly asking for more in the same sentence. That should of been the LAST meeting! Who is the joke on?
Cranky HR Guy September 26, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Whatever the past transgressions (and yes, they ARE serious ones), the application has to be heard and acted on. The question I have is if we have testimony on record of at least an ongoing zoning violation as well as a possible violation of the building code, why has the Code Enforcement division not taken an proactive approach and addressed this to either cite or clear the charge? If this has been done, it would be to the benefit of all to state so, yet no word on this has been given by either the applicant or city officials. Curious
Mike April 23, 2013 at 02:06 AM
why don't we consider a use that is going to benefit ALL of the residents of LB, not a select few, many of whom do not even reside here year round. as a resident of West End I am pretty aware of who patronizes the existing businesses (which are predominantly bars and restaurants) and I don't notice the "summer NY crowd" spending money at a good number of these establishments. I will do my share to see that this use variance does not get approved.

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