By Jonathan Weber
What was to be the final decision on the Yeshiva Gedola Na’Os Yaakov’s application to open a Talmudic Academy housing 96 Rabbinical students on Logan Road has hit some bumps along the way.
Yes, there was a hearing on July 21, as scheduled, and several meetings with presiding Judge Freda Wolfson in Federal Court in Trenton since, but apparently, according to Township of Ocean officials, they don’t think the Judge will rule in their favor.
If you recall, the original hearing, which began ages ago — well maybe not ages ago, but June 2014 — ran on for 511 days. There were so many people opposed to the project, they had to hold the hearings in the gymnasium at Ocean Township High School. Most of the crowd were concerned, at least privately, that allowing the school at 1515 Logan Road, would be the beginning of Ocean turning into another Lakewood.
Hoping to win approval from the Zoning Board Of Adjustment, the Yeshiva had promised to put all kinds of limitations on their students, such as no smoking, no cars allowed, the young men wouldn’t be permitted off the premises, and no outdoor athletic activities.
Residents of Ocean complained about possible noise and the fear of having 96 men in their early twenties across the street from a park and playground. The building is currently used as a private elementary school and has been used in the past as a religious high school.
The decision finally ended in the Board of Adjustment turning down the application and Gedola Na’Os Yaakov, affectionately known as the ‘Logan Road Yeshiva’ appealed in Federal Court.
When this happened, the burden of proof of whether the application should be granted shifted from the Yeshiva to the town. That means, the school was now automatically considered a beneficial application since it was for a religious organization. Why? Because federal law supersedes state law. The federal court ruled the Yeshiva wasn’t allowed to complete their application in the required 180 days and ordered a new hearing with all kinds of limitations on time.
At the end of process two, again the Board of Adjustment turned down the application. And the Yeshiva’s lawyers took the case to court again.
So where does this leave the Township? Township Attorney Martin Arbus feels the judge has rebuffed all arguments the municipality has presented and thus the final decision, expected to come withen the next two to three weeks, will go against the town. Judge Wolfson has restated the application is beneficial. Whether Ocean appeals to a higher court or not will depend on that decision, what it means to the town, and the overall costs of appealing the ruling, which could spiral upwards into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.