An inspection last week by the Ramapo deputy building inspector found that a proposed Shul on Forshay Road would actually be used as a Yeshiva, which is not allowed under the town’s zoning.
The town’s Planning Board had adjourned an October decision on the final site plan by Congregation Ateres Yisroel, which plans to convert a single-family house into a Shul, until Deputy Building Inspector Steve Conlee could determine what exactly 30 Forshay Road would be used for.
In a letter dated Tuesday to the land-use board, Conlee wrote: “It is my determination that the use proposed does not constitute a house of worship as defined by the town’s zoning law. It appears that the applicant’s intended use of the property is most consistent with a school of religious instruction.”
“The congregation, led by Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, plans to remodel the two-story home into a synagogue to be used by about 25 to 30 young men to walk to and take part in religious services, prayers and study.”
No changes would be made to the exterior of the 37-year-old home, or its footprint. The property, which is owned by Chaim Rosenberg of Monsey and is just less than a half-acre, would include three parking spots in the front and 11 in the rear.
Work on the home began last year, and the congregation was cited by the town Nov. 23, 2005, for building without a permit.
At the Planning Board’s October meeting, residents spoke out against the project, citing concerns that a yeshiva would adversely affect their residential neighborhood.
“The existence of a yeshiva will fundamentally change the face of the neighborhood,” wrote Rabbi Yaacov Kaploun, who lives next door to the proposed project. “Privacy in our backyards, pool and decks will be lost when 25-40 unrelated young men move into a facility seven days a week. The peace and quiet on this residential neighborhood will be gone forever.”
The congregation’s South Nyack-based attorney, David MacCartney, said he “strongly disagreed” with the determination.
“We think what’s going on here is the government is sticking its nose into a religious institution and trying to dictate how the congregants practice their religion,” MacCartney said.