This proposed 16,350 square foot house of worship would require
65% more land than owned to meet the legal requirements.
The structure would be too big, too high, too wide, too close to neighbors,
and without a major variance, would not be legal.

Contributions can be made to:
Connell Foley LLP
Attorney Trust Account
Please mail check to:
Connell Foley LLP
85 Livingston Avenue
Roseland NJ 07068,
Attn: Kevin J. Coakley
(Funds only distributed with consent of the Association's trustees)

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The Alternative Press - Patricia Harris

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


MILLBURN, NJ - If Monday night's session is an indication, the final hearing on the Chai Center of Millburn/Short Hills’s application to build a synagogue on Jefferson Avenue could be long and heated.

Members of the public will be allowed to speak at the Feb. 13 hearing, after which the Zoning Board of Adjustment will decide if a proposed 16,000-square-foot facility can be built on a 1.8-acre property at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Old Short Hills Road.


More than 100 opponents and supporters of the application jammed into the multi-purpose room at Hartshorn School last night during the 4 ½-hour session. At times the conversation grew heated, as when board member Roger Manshel chided Rabbi Mendel Bogomilsky for not proposing a smaller structure, with the social hall located underneath the sanctuary.


"You always have a different point of view,” he said. “You always do what you want to do.”


Board chairman Joseph Steinberg gave a preview of the format of the upcoming hearing, which will again take place at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. He told members of the audience they would be allowed to make statements no longer than three minutes and asked them to stick to the issues and avoid repeating what others have already said.


“I ask for decorum,” Steinberg said. “We’ve accomplished that so far except for a brief 30-second outburst, which will not be repeated.”


The first half hour of the session will be devoted to a question and answer period with the rabbi, Steinberg said.


During last night’s session, representatives of the Chai Center submitted new site plans. Bogomilsky explained that he changed the plans for the sanctuary to alleviate concerns about the number of people who will use the sanctuary. The new design, which does not allow for spillover into the social hall, would seat 148 worshippers.


Several members of the board asked questions of the rabbi concerning a proposed parking lot that would accommodate 50 cars.


“Nothing suggests we have a parking problem,” Bogomilsky contended. He said the center employs an off-duty police officer to assist with parking during busy times and asks the police department to post signs prohibiting parking on Jefferson Avenue and nearby streets.


Bogomilsky was also asked whether he foresees that his congregation will grow as a result of a new facility. He answered that he expects his congregation to remain close to its current level of about 77 families.


He explained that few congregants choose to have life cycle events such as Bar and Bat Mitzvot with his group because of religious restrictions against men and women dancing together.


“Many have one foot in another congregation,” he added.


If the congregation did attract a larger number of congregants for services than could be accommodated in the synagogue, Bogomilsky said, the center could rent space in the middle or high school auditoriums.


Also at the session, the board heard testimony from Ciro Gamboni, whose property abuts the Chai Center’s.


Gamboni outlined four principal concerns: the building is too big and not in keeping with the neighborhood; the parking lot is being imposed on what is now a green and bucolic area; the building is too close to Jefferson Avenue and Old Short Hills Road; and the proposed structure is not simply a house of worship but will house other functions.


“Just imagine I bought your neighbor’s house, tore it down, then put up a 50-car parking lot,” he pleaded with the board. “I’m asking you to protect me and protect my home.”




Save Millburn is the name for the local, registered, non-profit group,
The Concerned Neighborhood Association of Millburn Township, Inc. - Email