Illegal School Remains Closed For Now

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

  BRICK – An ultraorthodox Jewish high school for boys, that opened at the site of the former Temple Beth Or without township approval, has been given two more weeks to prepare a site plan and seek approvals for interior work that has already been completed.

  During an October 14 status conference, Judge Craig L. Wellerson gave David Gluck of Congregation Kehilos Yisroel, which runs the school, the extra time to prepare a plan that would require township Planning Board approval for a change in use from a house of worship to a private school.

  Township attorney Kevin Starkey provided some background on the legal proceedings and explained “where we are,” during the October 12 Township Council meeting.

  He said there are UCC (Uniform Construction Code) problems at the site since work was done there without proper permits and inspections.

  “The judge ordered that this property owner of the school has to do what all other property owners in town are required to go through, the same procedures,” Starkey said.

  “So there’s two things: submit a site plan since there’s been a change in use from the temple to the school; and they need to submit applications for permits and get inspections for the work that was done or that needed to be done to make sure it’s a proper functioning school,” the attorney said.

  Starkey explained that the owner of the property must submit a site plan, “which is sort of their proposal of how it can be done,” that must address things like traffic patterns, where the buses would go, where the parking would be, what times of day people would be using the school and more.

  The plan would be submitted to the township Planning Board, whose professionals would look at the plan and ask questions.

  “There’s a back-and-forth that often happens before the Planning Board hearing, then at the Planning Board hearing there’s often more testimony, more input, the public gets to have input…before the Planning Board makes a decision,” he said.

  The township usually gets communication in advance from engineers and professionals about site plans, applications and permits, but none have been sought from the town or issued for the work inside the building. The judge said the school is to remain closed until those things are completed, Starkey said.

  The township deemed that one of the three structures on the property was unsafe and notified JCP&L, who did their own investigation and turned the power off to all three buildings.

  The property owner then reached out to the utility company, who confirmed with the town that only one of them was deemed unsafe and turned the power back on for the two buildings that were not unsafe, Starkey said.

  During public comment, Trish McCarthy of Pelo Road asked if the illegal dorms would be shut down in the neighborhood surrounding the illegal boy’s school.

  McCarthy was referring to several homes near the former temple that have been purchased by Gluck and are allegedly being used as dorms for Congregation Kehilos Yisroel high school students.

  Starkey said the matter of the illegal school is before the county, but the residential overcrowding issue is before the Brick municipal court.

  “There are summonses that have been issued, a Notice of Violation has been issued for overcrowding, and that is currently pending before the municipal court,” he said.

  Once all evidence has been presented, the judge will take whatever action he deems appropriate, Starkey said.

  The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, October 26 at 7 p.m.