HomeThe Atlantic-HubAtlantic-Hub NewsChabad hearing rescheduled in Long Branch

Chabad hearing rescheduled in Long Branch

By Kenny Walter
Staff Writer

LONG BRANCH- The Planning Board hearing of a proposed Jewish community center was rescheduled due to a notification snafu.

Board attorney Martin Arbus said that the Sept. 20 meeting was called off because some neighboring property owners were not properly notified of the meeting by the city.

An Oct. 5 special hearing has now been scheduled for the proposal to convert a vacated movie theater on Ocean Avenue into a mixed use development with retail on the first floor and the Chabad of the Shore on the second floor.

The latest version of the application comes several years after the Long Branch Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected the original proposal for a two-story building that would be used as a community center, event hall and weekend religious school.

In 2015, the City Council voted to amend zoning ordinances to create a C-3 West End Overlay District and permit both institutional and residential uses on the second floor of retail buildings in the zone.

“My understanding is that the application is fully compliant,” Mayor Adam Schneider said. “They are entitled to ask for minor waivers.

“You are entitled to get some bulk variances —you can’t get use variances.”

The application was rejected by the zoning board because, under previous zoning, religious institutions were not a permitted use in the zone. The Chabad subsequently sued the zoning board, and the suit was put on hold after the council opted to amend the zoning in West End.

Under the amended ordinance, the Chabad would be permitted to operate on the second floor of the theater, with the first floor occupied by retail.

Since adoption of the zoning amendments, some residents have criticized the changes at public meetings, arguing religious institutions should not be permitted in West End, which is the host to outdoor concerts, arts events, antiquing, shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

Attorney Scott Kelly, who has an office in West End, filed a lawsuit charging the city engaged unlawfully in spot zoning by amending zoning ordinances to add religious uses to the conditional uses permitted in the West End zone. The suit is still pending.


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