“Mesivta Ahavas Hatorah has been operating a boys’ religious school in the village since about 2013.
But it has been running without permits because the property at 720 Union Road never received permits, or a certificate of occupancy, to operate as a school — nor did the previous tenants who also had schools there since about 2006, according to village documents.
The owner, Congregation Bais K’nesses of New Hempstead, better known as Kehillat, owns the the property and rents it to Mesivta, which uses a portion of the property for a religious boys’ school, or yeshiva, and is not affiliated with the owner.
Although Mesivta is now seeking approval to keep operating, village fire inspector Raphael Ziegler does not recommend a school there housing the current number of students nor future plans to expand due to safety concerns, according to village documents.
Ziegler was also unwilling to issue a certificate of compliance for fire and safety codes during the permit process, according to village documents.
There are two buildings on the property: One is a bi-level house, which is used for the school, as well as a house of worship, lecture room, and clergy residence; the other is a one-story brick building used as a mikvah, or ritual bath, according to village documents.
Mesivta currently has about 55 students in grades nine through 12, and has about 10 faculty and staff members, according to village documents. The East Ramapo school district transports students to the school, and meals are prepared off the property, according to the documents.
“As a school, it’s an illegal use,” Brinn said, “and therefore it’s being addressed as need be. … It’s not a legal situation, the village recognizes it, and has taken action by sending the fire inspector, and they, in response, have come in and made a formal application.”
In addition to seeking a special permit to operate as a school and site plan approval, Mesivta is seeking two variances from village zoning codes: To operate on the current 3.6 acres which is below the 10-acre minimum to qualify for school use; and a reduction in the required number of parking spots.
The site plan also requests the approval of an increase the student body— up to 80 — for a future expansion.”
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