Emily DroobyAug 11, 2017, 8:06 pmAug 11, 2017, 8:08 pm

Plans for a synagogue in Clifton receive approval after nearly 10-year battle

The debate over Congregation Shomrei Torah stemmed from size of the building


A proposed synagogue in Clifton finally received planning board approval. Thanks to a unanimous vote.

Congregation Shomrei Torah will be allowed to build just over a 12,000 square foot temple on Dwasline Road. Their legal counsel said it's been a long road.

"It's time it came to an end. It's about what it is. It's been a long, long time... It means he's got his dream, he wants to have this Synagogue,” said Frank Carlet, the lawyer representing Congregation Shomrei Torah.

Carlet says the fight has a lot to do with building size. The size of the synagogue, which started at about 16,000 feet, was argued back and forth for years, at one point dropping as low as 7,000 feet, with the temple on the side of having higher square footage.

The recent decision came after a Passaic County judge gave the Clifton Planning Board 45 days to approve a larger synagogue 14,000 square feet would automatically be approved.

Community members have been very outspoken against this project. Earlier this month, they say they believe the synagogue is too large for the property.

"There's somewhere between four to 500 people that attend services with this congregation. Wonderful, but they need a large building," said resident Thomas Hilberth.

Also arguing that thanks to old sewers, it's a fire hazard. Some residents say the fire department wouldn't have enough water to fight a fire.

"I do not want to be able to go tonight, sleep at night worrying about the safety of myself, my family and my dog, and my home," said Mary Sadrakula.

Carlet says the building will have a sprinkler system and that they got a report from a fire expert who said they would be fine.

This approval won't technically be final until a Tuesday meeting, but Carlet says that he doesn't anticipate any problems or changes.

Now it's important to note that the congregation does have to follow some stipulations, including never having over 124 people plus the rabbi's family on the premises and no parties.

There is also still some pending litigation between the congregation and locals regarding how far back on the property the building is.

Carlet say they anticipate the process of drawing up plans and actually building the synagogue will take at least a year.

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