A Board of Adjustment hearing to create a dormitory for 96 college-age students at a proposed Talmudic academy in an existing school on Logan Road was shut down by an Ocean Township fire marshal July 16 due to overcrowding.
Ocean Township Fire Marshal Chris Pujat called for the adjournment of the meeting at approximately 7:40 p.m. after the high school auditorium exceeded its 638 person capacity.
“There were about 1,000 people there with some standing in the doorways and aisles. It was a safety concern. I recommended that the aisles and doorways be cleared but eventually it was decided to cancel the meeting,” he said.
And while the next meeting on the application will be held on Sept. 30, it is still uncertain where the meeting can be held to accommodate such a large crowd.
Pujat said he is working with the board to find an alternative meeting site.
“It’s really up to the board but I am trying to assist anyway I can and we are looking at other avenues,” he said.
He said a closed circuit television may be set up in an adjacent room.
Zoning Board Administrator Marianne Wilensky said that sites outside of the township may also be looked at but it is yet undetermined if that can be done.
“We are just in the process but don’t have any idea at this point,” she said.
Yeshiva Gedolah Na’os Yaakov is seeking approval to use a former elementary school, at 1515 Logan Road in the Wanamassa section, to house the academy.
The Lakewood-based school, which specializes in Rabbinical and Talmudic studies, is seeking a use variance to house 96 male students, ages 18 to 22 and who will live on-site, which is a 2.9-acre parcel, with 336-feet of frontage on Logan Road.
The site was originally approved as an elementary school in 1989 and a dormitory use was granted in 1997 that allowed 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 but still remains in effect, with the original conditions.
The proposed Talmudic Academy’s dormitory for adult-age student 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.