Residents Concerned with Zoning Impact of Synagogue Project
The Chai Center for Living Judaism has proposed to construct a new building on Jefferson Avenue.
The Chai Center for Living Judaism has proposed to construct a synagogue on Jefferson Avenue, and some residents are concerned about the zoning precedent it could set.
The center has proposed constructing a 16,350-square-foot building at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Old Short Hills Road as part of the settlement in the suit between the township and Rabbi Mendel Bogomilsky. The building would replace two single-family homes.
The application, which would go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, asks for a conditional use variance for an inherently beneficial use. Addiitonally, the board will review variance requests for building height and parking spaces in the buffer.
No date has been set for when the Board of Adjustment will review the application.
But the Concerned Neighborhood Association of Millburn Township is opposing the application because of the precedent it could set in other neighborhoods.
The group has scheduled a meeting to inform residents about the application for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Bauer Center in Taylor Park.
Aryeh Liwschitz, a member of the group, said he and others got involved because no one knew what was happening with the proposal and that there was concern over plans for such a large structure in the neighborhood.
But the issues aren't about the Chai Center, but rather the precedent it would set for other large zoning projects in residential neighborhoods. Many different institutions could be considered "inherently beneficial" such as a hospital, day care or low income housing, he said.
Liwschitz, a neighbor on Park Circle, said people need to learn the facts about the project. There could be negative impacts on the neighborhood, especially trafic. "It's already hard to get in and out on Old Short Hills Road," he said.
Also, the project would need three acres for the conditional use variance, but the property is only 1.85 acres, he said. "Such a large structure on that lot would not benefit the neighborhood."
"We want to inform people about what is going on," he said. "Many didn't know it was happening... It's not us versus them."