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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Activist group challenges Millburn Township Committee

for allowing the Chai Center tactics, legality of operation

and the settlement they made including forgiving $499,000

in fines that belong to the taxpayers.


The Concerned Neighborhood Association demands the Township

enforce its zoning ordinance and issue notices of violation to the Applicant

for unlawfully operating at the site.

At the Township Committee meeting, Wednesday April 20th,, residents James Welch and Robert Sanna, read a document they asked to be put into the official record.

 

The Concerned Neighborhood Association

of Millburn Township, Inc.


To: Honorable Mayor & Township Committee - April 20, 2011

Regarding: Application of Chai Center for Living Judaism, Inc.

Premises: 1 and 7 Jefferson Avenue , Block 2306, Lots 9 and 10, Short Hills, NJ

 

The Chai Center, located at the corner of Old Short Hills Road and Jefferson Avenue, is asking for multiple variances and waivers in their application in our town. We come before you as Trustees and Supporters of a legal entity established in 2005, The Concerned Neighborhood Association of Millburn Township, Inc.

 

We are here because of our concern with The Chai Center’s application being heard by The Zoning Board of Adjustment. We represent well over150 Supporters who have asked to be identified on our website by name. We have consulted with our attorney, who represents us on this matter, and wish to read this formal statement and enter it into the official Millburn Township record.

 

Aside from this statement, we have just handed out and will read now, we are attaching, for your consideration, a letter dated today to the Chairman of the Millburn Zoning Board of Adjustment.

 

After more than a year into the process of hearings, the Applicant, The Chai Center, has recently indicated its intent to modify the application and submit revised plans. We have stated in the attached letter that the Applicant’s treatment of the Zoning Board and the community at large has been abusive.

 

During the application process, the Applicant has continued to flout the law by operating a House of Worship and other major activities on the property without variance or other municipal approval. In the absence of disclosure to or consultation with the public, the Township settled prior litigation with the Applicant on June 23, 2009 and agreed to stay the enforcement of zoning laws during the application process. Without conceding the legality of that Settlement, our Association notes that the Applicant has repeatedly violated both its letter and its spirit.

 

In the Settlement, the Applicant agreed to make reasonable efforts to file a zoning application within sixty (60) days from the filing of the Settlement. In fact, the Applicant did not file its zoning application until five (5) months after the filing of the Settlement. Moreover, the Applicant submitted substantially revised plans two (2) months after the initial application. Importantly, the Settlement provides that the Applicant would file for approval to expand the existing home on 1 Jefferson Avenue. In violation of that provision, the application instead contemplates demolition of the homes on the subject property and construction of a substantially larger 16,350 square foot facility.

 

Furthermore, the settlement requires that the Zoning Board “dedicate a reasonable number of meetings” for the application. In fact, the Board has scheduled far more than a reasonable number of meetings to accommodate the Applicant’s project. The Settlement also contemplated a final decision by March 31, 2010, a date made impossible by the Applicant’s repeated delays. Clearly, the Zoning Board has done its part to facilitate the application, even as the Applicant ignores the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

 

While the law as well as the Settlement permits the Applicant to hold prayer meetings at the home, the Applicant is prohibited them from increasing materially their frequency and scope. Despite this clear prohibition, the Applicant has admitted under oath to hosting weddings, bar mitzvahs, bas mitzvahs and other gatherings and events far beyond the intendment of the Settlement. The delays occasioned by the Applicant’s conduct have permitted them to continue abusing the Settlement terms by engaging in activities that are prohibited by the Township’s ordinances. The Applicant has intentionally drawn out and manipulated the application process to the point of making it a farce. Quite simply, the Applicant has not lived up to its end of the Settlement.

 

Further, we strongly believe this settlement was not handled correctly at the time. In view of the forgoing and The Chai Center’s ignoring the settlement stipulations, we respectfully request that the settlement be revoked by the Town and the substantial fines be reinstated.

 

To summarize, no matter how many times and for how long the Chai Center stalls, the property will remain non-conforming. The continuous delaying tactics would seem to allow the Chai Center to continue its unlawful use of the property until the town has the courage to stop it. We question The Chai Center tactics and legality of operation and also the settlement the Township Committee made including forgiving $499,000 in fines that belong to the taxpayers.

 

On behalf of The Concerned Neighborhood Association of Millburn Township, we therefore demand the Township enforce its zoning ordinance and issue notices of violation to the Applicant for unlawfully operating at the site. We trust that Township Committee will take steps to give all Township residents fair treatment under the law.

 

Thank you for hearing us and allowing us to place this document into the official record.

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