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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Thursday, October 6, 2011

BY LINDSEY KELLEHER OF THE ITEM

The Item of Millburn and Short Hills

 

An attorney for Rabbi Mendel Bogomilsky filed a motion on Friday, Sept. 2, to dismiss a complaint made by the Millburn Township Committee's attorney this past summer to review a 2009 court settlement between the township and Bogomilsky, his wife and the Chai Center for Living Judaism.

In the motion, the defendants requested that this complaint be dismissed for "failure to state a valid cause of action."

 

In April 2011, the Concerned Neighborhood Association, a grassroots organization of residents opposing the Bogomilskys' plans to build a synagogue on the corner of Old Short Hills Road and Jefferson Avenue requested that the Township Committee review the 2009 settlement agreement.

 

This summer, the Township Committee reviewed the settlement agreement and had its attorney, Michael Kates file a complaint about it. This complaint was filed because the township claims that the Bogomilskys violated the terms of a 2009 settlement agreement that required them to maintain 1 Jefferson Ave. as their principal residence. According to Kates, the township's attorney for this case, at the time of this settlement agreement, the township believed that the Bogomilskys lived at 1 Jefferson Ave. The township did not know about the Bogomilskys address at 437 Millburn Ave., at this time, Kates noted.

 

"It was a charade the way he played the township by saying that he lived at 1 Jefferson but he really didn't," Kates told The Item of Millburn and Short Hills earlier this week.

 

According to Philip Pfeffer, Bogomilsky's attorney in this case, the township knew that the Bogomilskys lived in both homes.

 

"Indeed, the Township Police Department, at the behest of Township Administrator Tim Gordon and the Mayor, were surveilling both of the Bogomilskys' properties for years and knew exactly where the Bogomilskys were living," stated Pfeffer this week in an email to The Item.

 

Pfeffer wrote in the motion for dismissing this complaint that "nowhere in the settlement agreement is a "principal" residence mentioned at all."

In his email, Pfeffer called the township's current claim that the issue of "principal residence" being discussed during the settlement negotiations a lie and he stated that "the township has not identified one specific instance during which the issue was discussed."

 

The neighborhood association also contended that Bogomilsky has increased the "frequency and scope" of prayer meetings on the Jefferson Avenue site, which violate the settlement agreement. According to Kates, Bogomilsky has been operating 1 Jefferson Ave. as an institutional synagogue.

 

"He has been inconsistent in his treatment of the town and the application," said Kates.

 

The neighborhood association also requested that $499,000 in fines against Bogomilsky be reinstated.

 

According to Pfeffer, if the defendants motion to dismiss is granted, "we will be seeking our attorneys' fees and costs from the township and its lawyer, Michael Kates, for bringing this frivolous lawsuit."

 

Kates will be submitting papers to the New Jersey Superior Court, which are due on Thursday, Oct. 13, in response to this motion.

 

Under the settlement agreement, the township required Bogomilsky to appear before the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment to get a variance for three acres of land required for a house of worship. In the meantime, Bogomilsky was allowed to host prayer and High Holiday services at his residence on 1 Jefferson Ave., but no other types of services and/or events.

 

The Bogomilskys' residence at 1 Jefferson Ave. plus an adjoining lot on 7 Jefferson Ave. equals 1.8 acres of land. The site plan application for Bogomilsky's Jefferson Avenue property is in the process of being heard before the Millburn Zoning Board. In this site plan application, Bogomilsky is proposing to demolish the existing home on 1 Jefferson Ave. and a house on an adjoining property to construct a 16,350 square foot synagogue on the combined lot.

 

Since the settlement agreement, Bogomilsky has testified before the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment that he lives at 1 Jefferson Ave. on weekends and Jewish holidays when worshippers are not allowed to drive and at 437 Millburn Ave. on weeknights.

 

The next Zoning Board hearing for the Chai Center is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m., in Millburn Town Hall, during which Bogomilsky's attorney for the site plan application, Larry Kron will present evidence about front yard setback.

 

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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