Representatives of the Chabad of the Shore said they may consider appealing a city Zoning Board of Adjustment decision that denied them a use variance to build a synagogue in the city’s West End section.
The zoning board turned down their application after a year of testimony concluded Monday.“We will meet with our people and make a decision later,” said Chabad’s director, Rabbi Laibel Schapiro.Steven Tripp, attorney for the Chabad, had presented the case that the synagogue should be approved on the grounds that it is an inherently beneficial use for the West End.“The process the board has to do now is adopt a resolution,” Tripp said. “We’ll wait and see what they will say.”Tripp said their option to appeal is being taken “under advisory.”The Chabad — an education and outreach organization based in Long Branch — was seeking a special use variance to build a 20,000-square-foot, two-story synagogue in a commercial district where a house of worship is not a permitted use.Jeffrey Ging, vice chairman of the zoning board, said the project was too big for the neighborhood before voting it down.Board member Frank Fischedick said approving the plan would have a detrimental affect on the city’s master plan for the neighborhood, which is zoned for a mix of residential and commercial uses.
The plan to build the synagogue included demolishing an abandoned movie theater and an adjacent building both located on Ocean Avenue. The theater is owned by Ocean Avenue Partners LLC., and the building next door is owned by Ocean Ave LLC.According to city tax assessor’s documents, the theater and its property are valued at $1.6 million and pay $32,000 in taxes. The adjacent building is valued at $1.1 million and pays $21,000 a year in taxes.If the synagogue was approved, the properties would have come off the tax roles.