A Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that a private, religious school deemed illegal by Brick Township will have to keep its doors closed, at least until the owner of the facility and township officials agree on the settlement of a number of safety issues that will be discussed at an Oct. 14 court hearing.
Judge Craig Wellerson decided that David Gluck, who controls Congregation Kehilos Yisroel, the Lakewood-based organization that purchased the former Temple Beth Or facility in Brick, must keep the school that was being operated in his building closed until non-zoning-related matters can be settled. Township officials allege the school had been operating illegally since its owner never applied for approval of a site plan that would allow its presence in the building.
Gluck, in a separate matter, is also accused of illegally operating a suspected dormitory facility in a residential home steps away from the school. The home, which has an occupancy limit of five residents, was being utilized to house about 20 people, neighbors have recorded. There have also been allegations by neighbors of “block busting” and “racial steering” on the part of real estate agents associated with Lakewood’ ultra-Orthodox Jewish community since the school opened its doors.
Gluck failed to appear in court Monday in Brick Township’s municipal court to answer the charges of the code violations at the residential home at 91 Hendrickson Avenue and the case was adjourned for a week. His attorney did appear in front of Wellerson, a state Superior Court judge sitting in Toms River, on Tuesday.
The court announced that a limited agreement had been reached by Gluck and the township to resolve non-zoning-related issues before Oct. 14. Until then, Wellerson ruled the school must continue to be shuttered. Township inspectors found a number of compliance issues in the building relative to its use as a school, including violations of the state’s Uniform Construction Code and the local fire code.
The township agreed to conduct another inspection before the Oct. 14 hearing and determine whether these safety issues have been addressed. Gluck was ordered to provide 72 hours’ notice to inspectors that the work has been completed, and the inspectors will then have another 48 hours to author a report that will be submitted to the court.
Despite the movement at Tuesday’s hearing, the substantive issue of the case – zoning – has yet to be addressed. On Oct. 14, it is expected that Wellerson will address the safety report from inspectors and, if the building is compliant, make a determination as to whether the school can reopen while the underlying zoning issues are adjudicated.