A proposal to create a Talmudic Academy, which would house college-age students, on Logan Road in Ocean Township has raised concerns from area residents.
Yeshiva Gedolah Na’os Yaakov, Inc., based in Lakewood, is seeking approval from the Board of Adjustment to use a former elementary school, at 1515 Logan Rd. in the Wanamassa section, to house the academy.
The proposed Talmudic Academy is not a permitted use in the zone.
A Board of Adjustment meeting was held on the application last Thursday, Nov. 13, but there was no time for public input on the matter. The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11 when the public will be allowed to ask questions.
The school is seeking to house about 96 male students, ages 18 to 22, who will live on-site in the academy, which specializes in Rabbinical and Talmudic studies
According to testimony from the applicant, the academy allows no smoking, no going off campus to fraternize, and no cars brought to the seminary or its vicinity. Students are also not allowed to leave the facility at night.
Rules and regulation at the academy will be under supervision of the dean.
The applicant stated that students are required to complete 12 to 14 hours of scholarship a day and that the academy insists that “all energies be channeled toward contemplation and introspection.”
However, residents living in the area turned out in numbers for the board’s last meeting and are expected to return for the Dec. 11 meeting.
Wanamassa resident Christine Schmitt has started a petition drive on Change.org to stop the project.
Comments from residents are posted on the website.
“This is a most undesirable use for a property that is already dilapidated- it will suffer continued decline and won’t be maintained to the standards of Ocean Township,” said one resident.
The site for the proposed one-story academy is located on a 2.9-acre parcel with 336-feet of frontage on Logan Road.
The site was originally approved as an elementary school and a conditional use approval was granted in 1997 to allow for the boarding of students in grades 9 through 12, with no student being older than 18. A maximum number of 50 people, including students and staff, were permitted on site between midnight and 6 a.m. This boarding use was eventually discontinued and the building reverted back to strictly an elementary school.
The site is surrounded mostly by residential properties, with the Dave Dahrouge Park across Logan Rd. and some commercial properties to the west.
The current application is similar to one presented to the Board of Adjustment several years ago but which was eventually withdrawn due to neighborhood resistance. The site then proposed for the school was at the old historic home, known as Copper Gable, which is now an office building, on Deal Road.