Jewish temple project on hold

26 06 2009

CLIFTON – A proposed Orthodox synagogue in the city’s Rosemawr section that’s drawn strong opposition from neighbors has hit a snag.

The city Planning Board did not hear the application Thursday night, removing it instead from the agenda after the city zoning officer wrote that the project should be judged by the Board of Adjustment, which would postpone the hearing to July 15.

The reason given was that the site plan does not meet the conditional use requirements for parking.

But Frank Carlet, the lawyer for Congregation Shomrei Torah of Passaic/Clifton, argued Thursday night that the Planning Board should review the site plan because it met all requirements, including one for parking and interior landscaping.

“We’ll go to court,” he said. “They’re dead wrong.”

The Orthodox Jewish congregation is seeking to build a synagogue and ritual bath for women.

David Gross of Clifton, the congregation’s president, said the point was to construct something within walking distance of members, who live in that part of the city.

Orthodox Judaism forbids work on the Sabbath. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, observant Jews are not permitted to drive, and many families walk the stretch of Dwasline Road to attend Sabbath services in Passaic.

Initial plans for two buildings were changed to accommodate objections from residents. Sidewalks also would be constructed in the revised plans.

Gross said changes were meant to mollify residents, who have objected to the temple for a variety of reasons, including the size and scope of the project, and their view that the temple wouldn’t conform with the nature of the neighborhood.

But an attorney representing residents opposed to the project said it would not fit into the area.

“It’s totally inappropriate for the neighborhood,” Ira Weiner, who’s based in Montvale, said before the meeting. Weiner cited the size of the addition and parking as issues.

Fred Komarow, 50, of Virginia Avenue is one resident against the project.

“I’m pro-synagogue but I’m against one in this neighborhood, of this size,” he said.

The city planner had objected to the plan because its use would be too intensive for a residential neighborhood and because of lack of sidewalks on Dwasline Road.

E-mail: yoo@northjersey.com

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