By DON STINE
A residential rabbinical school on Logan Road in the Wanamassa section of Ocean Township has been denied a certificate of occupancy based on a lack of site work on the property.
Mayor Christopher Siciliano said he recently had a two-hour meeting with representatives of Yeshiva Gedolah Na’os Yaakov, Inc., based in Lakewood, and denied them occupancy of the school since court-ordered site work on the property had not been done. The Yeshiva wanted to occupy the school on Wed., Aug. 23.
“My reasons were that they did not have the building ready to the standards this town requires,” Siciliano said. “This had nothing to do with religion. I explained to them that their use was granted by court order, however, their occupancy will be granted by our standards, the same standards we required from a pizzeria, floral shop, or even Seaview Square Mall.”
After much legal wrangling, up to the federal court level, the creation of a Talmudic Academy to house college-age students at an existing school on Logan Road in Wanamassa section was granted. The school will house up to 80 rabbinical students.
Ocean Township reached a settlement over a $3.3 million lawsuit filed by Yeshiva Gedolah Na’os Yaakov over the township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment’s denial of its original application to create the rabbinical school. A $750,000 settlement was eventually reached but the judge stipulated in his ruling that all site work at the school be done by May 31 this year.
Since they failed to comply with the court order to have the site work completed by May 31, Siciliano said he had no choice other than to deny their request for occupancy until all the work is completed as per the site plan and to township standards.
He said façade work, fencing and other site improvements still need to be made.
“They had nine months (since the court order) to do it. We gave them plenty of time and they will not occupy the building until it’s done the way it’s supposed to be done,” he said.
Siciliano said he does not expect the building to be occupied for another year. He also said yeshiva officials were instructed to maintain the property as required by law or summons will be issued.