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)

Calendar of Events

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BY LINDSEY KELLEHER - The Item of Millburn and Short Hills

 

Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment Chairman Joseph Steinberg said during the Monday, Nov. 21, Chai Center of Living Judaism site plan application hearing, now it its 17th month, the board hopes to make a decision on the proposed synagogue in January or February of next year.

During Monday's meeting, Concerned Neighborhood Association attorney Kevin Coakley called his last two witnesses to testify: John Meyer, a licensed professional engineer in New Jersey to speak about parking and Brigette Bogart, of Burgis Associates, Inc. in Westwood, who talked about the synagogue's site plan application from a planning perspective. Meyer works at John Meyer Consulting in Armonk, N.Y.

 

Meyer's main point of concern was that the 50 parking spaces proposed for the synagogue are inadequate for the building's use and that pulling into and out of the proposed parking lot would be unsafe. Bogart's main concerns were that this structure would be too large to fit on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Old Short Hills Road and that clear testimony has not been provided to the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment about what the accessory uses are for the synagogue and how intensely they will be used.

 

Bogart recommended that the Zoning Board analyze the site plan and how it fits on the lots of 1 and 7 Jefferson Ave. She also recommended that the board look at four C variances and the D3 variance. Although houses of worship are permitted in residential areas, they must meet the minimum lot area requirement, which in Millburn and Short Hills is three acres for building a house of worship. Bogart explained that this plan is inappropriate because the plan does not fit on the site. The property for the proposed Chai Center that Rabbi Mendel Bogomilsky wants to build is 1.8 acres.

 

Bogomilsky's Attorney Larry Kron asked Bogart how the site would be different if it had three acres. Bogart said that a bigger site would accommodate more parking on site.

Attorneys and witnesses opposed to constructing the proposed Chai Center are concerned that the township's Zoning Board does not have enough data about the ratio of parking spaces to seats inside the proposed synagogue to make a decision on this case.

 

According to Zoning Board Attorney Gail Fraser, the Board has not been given a number of seats in the building for other uses such as the social hall, office, etc. Only the number 148 has been provided which would be the number of fixed seats in the sanctuary. Fraser explained that putting parking data on the site plan application would create a written record of the amount of parking for the site and where it was provided.

 

"Just give us the numbers and then justify why and how this will fit within the 50 parking spaces," Fraser said to Kron.

 

Kron contended that this information has already been provided in previous testimony. He argued that these figures do not need to be provided on the site plan since he is not presenting a case on a parking variance because he doesn't believe he needs one.

 

According to Zoning Board Member Roger Manshel, having such figures would be important when making a decision on the Chai Center. Comparing the Chai Center site plan application to that of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, Manshel explained that both B'nai Jeshurun and the proposed Chai Center have supplemental seating in their social halls and extra seating could also be put in their sanctuaries during certain select times of the year such as high holidays. At B'nai Jeshurn, Manshel explained, patrons may park on a hard grassy area that's part of their own property.

 

Monday's testimony started with Meyer's argument that parking is inadequate for the use of the Chai Center because according to him, the layout of the social hall and sanctuary would provide the building to have additional attendees beyond the 148 fixed seats. Meyer's testimony comes from his own observations of the site and its plan and Architect Michael Soriano's calculations.

 

Meyer said that the Institute of Transportation Engineers standards for a house of worship are for every 11.3 spaces per 1,000 feet in gross floor area, 185 spaces would be needed for the building. A measure of the number of parking spaces per attendee show that 0.7 spaces per attendee would equal 104 spaces, Meyer continued.

 

"If social seating is excluded, still over 100 spaces [would be needed for the synagogue]," said Meyer.

 

Meyer also testified that there is no left turn or bypass lane on Old Short Hills Road that would allow cars to turn onto Jefferson Avenue easily.

 

Kron asked the witness if he would be less concerned about the proposed synagogue if the zoning board required off-site parking for the Chai Center. Meyer responded that additional parking would be needed based on the Chai Center's layout.

 

The next Chai Center hearing is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m., the location to be determined. During this meeting Gamboni Family Attorney, John Lamb will call a witness and Kron may have a rebuttal case. Public comment may begin during this hearing.

 

http://www.northjersey.com/news/134344573_Synagogue_parking_disputed.html

 

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