Long Branch: Long Branch Zoning Board of Adjustment denied the Chabad of the Shore’s application for a use variance by a unanimous decision last evening, June 10.
The decision was rendered after 7 extensive hearings.
The hearing Monday evening was comprised of public comments from more than 30 members of the public and summations by Attorney Thomas J. Hirsch, representing the West End Business Association and Steven Tripp, Esq. representing the Chabad.
The unanimous decision was based on the board’s adhering to the standards and requirements of the city’s March 2010 Master Plan. The plan was revised after comprehensive study, it was said. The latest master plan Zone C provisions do not include provisions for synagogues or other houses of worship. After several years at the Ocean Avenue location, by 2012 the Chabad had grown to where its usage was more extensive than the original office use.
The Chabad application was for a non-conforming use which would compromise the intention of the Ordinance, it was testified. However, the Chabad testified that the use would continue the character of the commercial zone, which addresses smaller business and commercial uses.
The Chabad was originally allowed use of its building on Ocean Avenue in West End as an office, but the need for more kinds of member use grew quickly, leading to more than office operations.
A second building next door was connected to the first, doubling the floor space and becoming used for more purposes. The owners were cited for a zoning violation which led to application for the use variance.
It is expected that negotiation to allow reasonable time for the Chabad to seek a possible other solution will follow the decision, said Chairman Terry Janacek. Nearby sites may be usable for Chabad members needing to walk to religious services.
An appeal through the courts is also a possibility.