Residents raise concerns over proposed yeshiva

Staff Writer

OCEAN TOWNSHIP — A plan to operate a yeshiva has drawn the ire of several residents who live near the proposed site on Logan Road in the township’s Wanamassa section.

Residents flooded Town Hall for the Dec. 11 Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing on the application from Yeshiva Gedola Na’os Yaakov to operate a two-story yeshiva for 96 male students, ages 18-22. The plan calls for the renovation of a former elementary school building on 2.9 acres at 1515 Logan Road, between Park Boulevard and Grassmere Avenue.

David Boesch, project manager for the yeshiva, said the site plan has changed since an initial hearing was held on Oct. 23.

“Based upon comments that we received from the board, the professionals and the public, significant modification of the circulation pattern has been implemented,” he said. “We are maintaining the roadway for emergency vehicular access and drop-off capabilities.

“We are completely eliminating the drive aisle to the north side of the building, as well as completely rehabilitating the pavement area.”

The applicant is seeking several variances, including a use variance and parking variance.

Residents voiced concerns over the project, citing drainage, wetlands issues, parking and other issues with the proposed Jewish school for young adults.

One of the frequently raised concerns was a lack of outdoor recreation at the site.

“We are not proposing any outdoor fields, and the existing basketball hoop will be removed,” Boesch said. “So, there is no proposed outdoor recreation.”

Several residents said the absence of recreational facilities will have the students looking elsewhere for activities.

“My concern is there is going to be 100 men living there, and there is just going to be no space for them, and they are going to be in my neighborhood all the time,” one resident said.

While the proposal shows 23 parking spaces, Boesch said the plan includes 40 green-bank parking spaces that could be added, if necessary.

“Green-bank parking spaces are spaces that are shown that can be constructed but are not needed by this applicant,” he said. “If the board or the zoning officer in the future determines that they are necessary, they could be built.”

While students are expected to live at the yeshiva, they would not be permitted to have a car on campus.

Attorney Jennifer Krimko, who is representing the applicant, said they are willing to place a deed restriction for parking, if requested.

“The applicant is wholeheartedly willing to accept any reasonable conditions that this board wants to place upon its use,” she said. “If the board sees fit for a deed restriction or any other type of reasonable condition, we will accept it.”

Boesch said one of the benefits of the proposal would be a reduction in impervious coverage.

“If we were to build out the green-bank parking spaces, the total impervious surface coverage would actually be 80 square feet less than what it is today,” he said. “If we do not construct the green-bank parking spaces, we would actually be 6,595 square feet less than what is there today.”

However, residents expressed concerns over stormwater runoff and the potential for increased flooding.

“Currently, Logan Road floods on normal rain days,” resident Michael Palutis said.

The next hearing on the application is scheduled for Jan. 8. Board Chairman Warren Goode said it is possible that the board will schedule a special meeting at a larger location to accommodate the public and give the applicant more time to present testimony.