A decision on creating a 96-student residential Talmudic Academy on Logan Road in the Wanamassa section of Ocean Township was not reached at a special meeting Tuesday night so the case is being carried to another hearing.
About 150 to 200 people attended the special three-hour Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting on the application held at the Ocean Township High School where further testimony was given by Rabbi Shlomo Lesin, head of the academy; traffic engineer Maurice Rached; and architect Stephen J. Carlidge.
A date has not been set for the next hearing on the application but a date is expected to be announced at the board’s regular March 12 meeting.
Board Secretary Marianne Wilensky said it will probably be another three-hour meeting solely dedicated to the application and probably held again at the high school. The applicant, Yeshiva Gedolah Na’os Yaakov, Inc., based in Lakewood, pays a $2,500 fee to have a special meeting.
Much of the meeting was spent with residents asking witnesses various questions, ranging from the supervision of students, to on-site medical staff, to what benefit the academy will have to the township.
Some questioned if the number of students at the academy could be increased but the applicant and board officials said the application only allows for 96 students.
Rabbi Lesin said the building could legally house up to 121 students but that is not the plan. In order for this to happen, the applicant would have to come back before the zoning board for more hearings and another approval.
Yeshiva Gedolah Na’os Yaakov is seeking approval from the Board of Adjustment to use a former elementary school, at 1515 Logan Road in the Wanamassa section, to house the academy. The proposed Talmudic Academy is not a permitted use in the zone and five out of the seven zoning board members, or two thirds, must vote in favor for any use change to go into effect.
The academy would be located in an existing former school 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.