By DON STINE
An application to convert a single-family home in Allenhurst into a synagogue will have its second hearing before a special meeting of the Planning Board on Wednesday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. The first hearing on the application was held June 13.
The applicants, Ohel Yis’hak Sephardic Synagogue of Allenhurst and Rabbi Moshe Shamah, want to create a synagogue in a single-family house at 108 Allen Ave. The application calls for adding a second story to the building. It also seeks preliminary and final site plan approvals, bulk variance relief, design waivers, along with a Certificate of Appropriateness Major to permit a second-story addition and renovating an existing single-family home into a house of worship.
Shamah purchased the 5,266-square foot house in 1998, which was used as his home.
However, a federal district court may have helped clear the way for the synagogue after the applicants filed a complaint Jan. 23 challenging a borough land use law barring it from building a house of worship. The judge ruled on the matter that same day and issued an order to permit the synagogue plan to move forward.
The case was based on the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which protects individuals and organizations from land-use laws that constitute an undue burden on their religious exercise.
Allenhurst Borough Attorney David A. Laughlin said the court case merely ruled that the house of worship is an allowed use in the zone so the applicant will not have to seek a use variance.
“All it resolved is that the property can be used for a synagogue. But all of the other Planning Board standards should apply,” said McLaughlin, who is the borough attorney, not the Planning Board attorney.
“It didn’t settle the application, just the use,” he said.
The special meeting will be held at the Allenhurst Municipal Building Meeting Room, 125 Corlies Avenue, second floor.