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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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BY LINDSEY KELLEHER

STAFF WRITER

The Item of Millburn and Short Hills

 

Members of the public who hoped to voice their opinions, comments or concerns about the proposed Chai Center on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Old Short Hills Road during last night's Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting didn't get a chance to.

The public comment portion of the hearing was held over to Monday, Feb. 13, since witness testimony was heard and concluded during the 4 1/2 hour meeting in Hartshorn School's multipurpose room. Out of approximately 150 people who came to the Jan. 30 hearing, about 40 of them raised their hands when Millburn Zoning Board Chair Joseph Steinberg asked who wanted to comment on the case.

 

The Board urged members in the audience to make their comment(s) three minutes or less and to not be repetitive when speaking during the Feb. 13 meeting. The Board also urged audience members to show respect for each other. Showing respect for other members of the public, witnesses and Zoning Board members hasn't been an issue during the Board meetings until last night.

 

During the hearing, a woman from the audience made a reference to "there being another Hitler in the room" after Zoning Board member Roger Manshel made a comment about the township's ordinance that requires a religious institution to be constructed on three acres of land.

 

"You have a differing view from everyone in this town and you do what you want to do anyway," Manshel said to Rabbi Mendel Bogomilsky after Bogomilsky said he disagrees with the township's ordinance.

 

After this comment and the comment from the audience that referenced Adolf Hitler, another woman from the audience said that the first woman should not have played "the Jewish card."

 

Bogomilsky told The Item of Millburn and Short Hills last night after the hearing ended that both women were trying to monopolize the issue, which is whether or not an approximately 16,000 square foot synagogue should be constructed on 1.8 acres of land.

 

During the meeting, four witnesses testified including Bogomilsky's neighbor Ciro Gamboni, Eileen Davitt, Bogomilsky and Paul Philips, the township's planner in this case.

 

Gamboni maintained the proposed building is too big to be constructed on the lot that would combine the properties of 1 and 7 Jefferson Ave. Gamboni said the parking lot is superimposed on what is green bucolic area, the synagogue would be too close to Jefferson Avenue and Old Short Hills Road and the proposed Chai Center is not simply a house of worship but rather a life center and the sanctuary itself would only take up 10 percent of the area.

 

Bogomilsky told Board members how the rooms inside the proposed synagogue would be used. During a party or a kiddish brunch on Saturday mornings, the rabbi explained, only the social hall and kitchen would be used. He noted that he "doesn't think the use of any rooms inside the building would exceed more than 148 seats at one time."

 

Eileen Davitt was asked questions about her duties as the township's Zoning Officer by Gamboni's attorney John Lamb. Phillips testified about the D3 and parking setback variances.

 

For a complete story, see this Thursday's issue of The Item.

 

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