“The saga over whether a religious group built a three-car garage or warehouse-type building for a synagogue has moved to state Supreme Court.
The Brooklyn-based Kedishas Aharon D’Hadas claims in court papers the village violated its property rights by voiding a certificate of occupancy to use the building attached to 3 Spring Hill Terrace.
The legal action filed April 19 states the Zoning Board of Appeals voided the certificate without allowing the educational organization to defend itself, violating the organization’s constitutional rights to use its property and due process.
Dennis Lynch, the attorney for Kedishas Aharon D’Hadas, said the ZBA acted on complaints from residents that the structure the village building inspector approved as a garage was being used as a house of worship in violation of village zoning and plans.
The ZBA decision “is like charging the defendant with a crime, but letting only the complainant have a right to be heard on the charge in order to convict the defendant,” Lynch said. “This is not about religion. This is property rights. The neighbors never challenged the building permit.”
Mayor Rosario “Sam” Presti referred questions to village attorney Walter Sevastian, who declined comment.
In late January, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to close down the white building that towers over a house and two converted garages.
The owners received a building permit after submitting plans for the structure on Dec. 27, 2016. Lynch argued no one challenged the permit and the village later approved the structure.
The ZBA acted on complaints from neighbors, who told the building inspector and other village officials the garage was being used for religious services and no cars were ever seen parked inside.
Kedishas Aharon D’Hadas deceived the village by claiming to build a three-car garage, said Hilda Kogut, a retired FBI agent who leads the village chapter of Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods, known as CUPON.
Kogut and another neighbor, Carole Goodwin, challenged the building inspector’s approval of a certificate of occupancy before the ZBA on March 20. They challenged the structure being approved as a garage by the village building inspector, Russell Gliniecki.
Kogut said the evidence presented by CUPON and other residents to the Zoning Board of Appeals in favor of revoking the certificate of occupancy was overwhelming.
“No reasonable person could possibly conclude that the structure built was intended to ever be used as a garage,” Kogut said. “The ZBA unanimously agreed and it was clear they also did not understand the thinking of the building inspector.”
She said CUPON expected the owners to take the village to court.
“Despite the objections their attorney raises, we firmly believe that the structure was always intended to be used as a synagogue that circumvented the law,” she said. “All eyes are on the village now.”
Read the complete Journal News story here.