NOTE: A special meeting of the Zoning Board of appeals will address the matter in today’s JN story–Meeting is Monday, December 18, 2017, 7:30 PM Please note Meeting will take place at the Chestnut Ridge Middle School Auditorium, 892 Chestnut Ridge Rd, Chestnut Ridge NY
“When is a garage not used to house cars? Neighbors of a Spring Hill Terrace property say when the garage is a synagogue.
While the congregation denies holding services in the three-car garage, neighbors are asking the village zoning board of appeals to revoke the structure’s certificate of occupancy and issue a stop work order.
“They lied,” Hilda Kogut said Friday, standing with neighbor Carole Goodman on a chilly morning outside the house owned by the Brooklyn-based Kedishas Aharon D’Hadas. “This is a shul, not a three-car garage. We kept telling the village what’s going on there. The village is turning a blind eye.”
The neighbors cite the congregation’s construction drawings that show amenities such as separate bathrooms for men and women. They also say the structure is heated by radiant heat flooring and including lighting and numerous lights.
Kogut and Carole Goodman filed a petition asking the zoning board to vacate the structure’s certificate of occupancy. The meeting is scheduled for Monday night at the middle school.
Besides the three-car garage, the property has two former garages now used for other purposes. The garage that came with the house when it was built in 1958 has been turned into a religious spa called a mikvah, and a former two-car garage built by the former owner in 1971 into a machine shop is being used as a study room.
Rosenberg said the three-car garage has bathrooms and sinks to accommodate people who meet with the rabbi, who lives in the house at 3 Spring Hill Terrace.
“We go by the rules and regulations,” Rosenberg said. “We don’t cheat.”
Chestnut Ridge Mayor Rosario “Sam” Presti, an attorney, said he won’t comment, citing the upcoming ZBA hearing and possible lawsuit.
“It would not be appropriate for me to comment since the ZBA is a quasi-judicial body,” Presti said Friday. “In addition, there is a potential for litigation by an aggrieved party; accordingly, I do not want to compromise the village in any way.”
Residents say the congregation pulled a fast one on the village.
They said the congregation’s drawings show the tall white vinyl structure has a “storage mezzanine” with two emergency exits and the French-style double doors open outward, rather than up and down like a garage.
Kogut, a former FBI agent, said they’ve videotaped activities at the house, noting there have been more than a dozen cars and vans parked outside this week, as well as men entering through side doors.
They’ve photographs chairs being moved into the garage, which they said has heating and air-conditioning.
Their request for ZBA revocation says the house is advertised as a synagogue in a Monsey magazine, encouraging people to attend and buy houses in the area.”
Read the complete Journal News article here.