Zoning Board Ramapo – Yeshiva Safety Issues



Ramapo asks court to shut Eckerson Lane yeshiva for zoning violations

Lohud, May 21, 2016

Mosdos Sanz Klausenberg has not responded in state court to Ramapo request that a judge order the Eckerson Lane yeshiva closed after three years of lacking final town approvals

Ramapo has asked a state court to shut down an Eckerson Lane yeshiva for overstaying temporary permits that allowed it to use a house and classroom trailers for students while building a more permanent school.

The yeshiva was opened three years ago by a congregation without approvals. But the congregation later received town permission to use a single-family house for classrooms and add modular trailers for additional students.

Ramapo is arguing in court papers that Mosdos Sans Klausenberg of Monsey is violating zoning regulations after failing to build a school on the property within two years. Town law gives developers one year – with the potential of a 12-month extension – to run a school with temporary modular classrooms while constructing a more lasting structure.

Mosdos Sans Klausenberg apparently is the first school targeted by Ramapo for closure for failing to meet such requirements. The town’s legal action comes while it is under increased scrutiny by the state for how it has conducted its code enforcement.

The town’s court papers say Ramapo Chief Building Inspector Anthony Mallia gave the congregation a temporary certificate of occupancy July 23, 2013, to use the property’s three-story house for classrooms, finding the building would serve the same purpose as modular trailers.

He also approved installing the modular trailers for additional classrooms a year later, in July 2014.

The Mallia-issued certificate of occupancy for the house expired in July 2015 and no school had been built to date, meaning Mosdos Sans Klausenberg is operating a school unlawfully in violation of town zoning, according to the town’s legal papers, filed April 5 in state Supreme Court in New City.

The congregation also illegally converted the attic into classroom space, the town alleges.

Asked about the litigation, the congregation’s school administrator, Rabbi Abraham Spitzer, e-mailed to The Journal News the town’s Planning Board minutes for April 5 indicating the board’s seven members had approved a special permit for paving the parking lot, install lights and landscaping, and had also approved a revised site plan for a school.

Spitzer wrote, “There’s a misunderstanding. Our project has been approved by the .. Planning Board…”

Spitzer said the congregation will be seeking a building permit to proceed with construction.

“I would like you to know that this is a technical violation,” he contended in the email. “During the time the school had their temporary permit we met all fire and safety regulations.”

The congregation’s attorney, James Licata, didn’t return messages seeking comment. The congregation has not responded to the town in court.

Micheal Miller, a leader of Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods, said Friday that the town’s action is long overdue, but he doubts the town has really turned a corner. He said Ramapo was only taking action in response to the state crackdown on the lack of local enforcement after years of lobbying by Wren, CUPON, County Executive Ed Day and the Rockland Illegal Housing Task Force.

He said the town also feels the pressure from ongoing corruption investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Rockland District Attorney’s Office that already have produced charges against the town supervisor and a town council member.

“They classified this house as a trailer,” Miller said Friday on Eckerson Lane as dozens of children left yellow school buses. “It’s obviously not a trailer. Many schools like these don’t conform to local zoning laws and they are allowed to operate. This is Ramapo’s public policy – to allow schools without approvals. The town is not adhering to its own laws.”

The town says Mosdos Sans Klausenberg and seven others schools had received permission as of August 2015 to operate trailer classrooms on a temporary basis. The two-year maximum has expired for six of the schools, including a Highview Road yeshiva that also opened illegally and then continued to expand with the Building Department and town’s permission.

Mallia said he couldn’t comment on the status of the other schools, writing in an email to The Journal News that he’s busy working on the town’s response to a critical state report on the town’s inspections and procedures. The state is threatening to take over inspections for the town and Spring Valley.

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6 thoughts on “Zoning Board Ramapo – Yeshiva Safety Issues

  1. I forgot to mention in my first post that I received another summon from The Town .
    This time bc my bushes were overlapping over the sidewalk . Overlapping ? 2 inches .
    Is that a reason to go to court ? I live in a 100 % residential area , no traffic, no pedestrians , only
    residents’ cars . My bushes did not affect anyone , not the pedestrians , bc there is none , not the residents , they never walk in the neighborhood , not the cars, either , and my bushes are low , under 3 feet, so it does not affect the traffic , bc there is no traffic.

    When the inspector came and knocked at my door , I was surprised . He told me why he was here ,
    bc the Town received a written complaint from a neighbor about the bushes . I knew exactly who it was . Then, the inspector demanded to get in the back yard to see more . I had no choice but to let him in , bc if I wouldn’t , I would have had more trouble . So I did and since he did not see any shed over 9 feet high or anything against Town ‘ zoning laws’ , it ended up amicably .

    If the complaint happened to be against an Italian owner , bc the Town does check in their system
    who is the owner , the charges would have been dropped on the spot . The complaint would have tossed in the trash and the inspector would have never showed up at my door .

    • @m, you may be right. You may have been profiled. There is no way to know. What is unsettling for us is that mistrust on both ends, no matter where you live at this point, is only getting worse. We are not belittling you comments.

  2. m-In Ramapo NY if you are “religious”, you’ll get away with everything. I thought Yeshivas needed 2 acres of land not 1. I had a house on my road that was illegally converted from a one family house into a 3 family house. I have seen Notice of Hearing signs in Ramapo with a dozen variances listed and the buildings get built. We have “religious” slumlords that are outed all the time for their greedy ways, immigrants paying rent to live in basements and attics, no heat, no smoke detectors, etc, etc. How many illegal Yeshivas and pre-schools are there in Ramapo?

  3. Any town can do anything . They’ll find a little nothing they’ll refer to the town ‘zoning laws’ .

    I had to go to court for 3 years to keep a 6 foot stockade fence and pay a lawyer while the bastard across the street also has a 6 foot fence and was left alone .Plus many other ppl do have 6 feet fence and are not bothered by the town . I even stopped at ppl who do have 6 feet fences and I personally asked a question to many different owners , ‘ were u ever bothered by the town for the 6 foot fence ‘ ? They all answered ‘ no, nobody bothers you around here ‘.

    Really ? I was harassed for months by the town till I had to go to court while other ppl are left alone .
    Yes, the town and its ppl working for them are anti semitic .

    In Nassau County , NY if you are Italian, you’ll get away with everything . You can keep boats on your driveway , have a 6 foot fence , rent a part of your house , anything . They’ll leave you alone .

    I even know someone who is renting two large studios in the back of her house .
    The house is located in a court . Neighbors complained to the town bc too many cars around the property and too much coming and going .
    When the Italiano Town Inspector came to her house AND DID WITNESS the violation , he said to her … ‘ I did not see anything , u are alright ‘…. He scribbled something on his paper and that was the end of the story .

    In the 5 towns, Nassau County , NY , it’s even worse . Jewish residents of the 5 Towns are harassed by the Town like you won’t believe , for nothing , like seeing garbage cans in front of their house . The Town also goes in the back of the house , peeps through the fence and take pictures . Then, the owner receives a court summon .

    The gentile resident does not receive anything .

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