Attorney fails to act on decision

Marko takes issue with mayor’s remarks


Staff Writer

ROOSEVELT – For more than a year now, the yeshiva located in the synagogue on Homestead Lane has been a hot-button issue. The Borough Council discussed the controversial topic at its Nov. 6 meeting.

The yeshiva signed a four-year lease last year with Congregation Anshei Roosevelt for use of the synagogue property. Yeshiva classes began for a group of first-year students in September 2005. This September, the yeshiva added another class of students, bringing the total to 34.

In October 2005, former Zoning Officer Bob Francis reported that he did not find the yeshiva in violation of any borough ordinances. When he inspected the school, it had 12 students, he said, and there was no residential use of the synagogue or the parsonage house on the property.

In September, the borough’s Planning Board overturned Francis’ decision that the local yeshiva was not violating borough ordinances.

At the Nov. 6 council meeting, council members complained that Borough Attorney Ira Karasick has not acted on the Planning Board’s decision.

Borough Administrator William Schmeling said he had spoken with Karasick, who said he had to put paperwork together before taking action on the Planning Board’s decision.

Schmeling also said Karasick has claimed that he did not receive an official resolution from the Planning Board. Councilwoman Peggy Malkin responded that Karasick had been directed to act on the matter many weeks ago.

Later on in the meeting, former Mayor Neil Marko, a yeshiva supporter whom borough residents recalled in a special February election, took issue with what the current mayor wrote in the borough’s newsletter regarding the yeshiva issue.

In the Borough Bulletin, Mayor Beth Battel wrote that the Borough Council held a special meeting on Sept. 26 to authorize the spending of $10,000 on special legal counsel in the constitutional law field to “better position ourselves to protect and defend our town and all of our citizens’ constitutional rights.”

In the article, Battel continued, “The Constitution grants everyone equal protection under the law, regardless of religion. Through this vote, the council stated emphatically that no citizen should be deprived of their constitutional rights by any citizen or group claiming superiority, and that no local government – no matter how small – should sacrifice their citizens’ rights to any person or group of persons claiming superior rights.”

Marko asked Battel what she meant by a group claiming superiority. Battel said she was referring to any group that thought its rights were above the law.

“We have laws,” she said, “and if a group came in that thought they were immune – that is what I’m referring to.”

Marko said Battel should state what particular group the borough is trying to defend itself from.

When Marko asked Battel which constitutional rights have been challenged, Councilman Jeff Ellentuck said that the council would discuss the issue in closed session.