Letter to the Editor | Jan Meyer, Esq. – Law Offices of Jan Meyer & Associates, PC.

Yesterday, the Appellate Division ruled yet again with our law office, that the Lakewood Planning Board has, for years, been exceeding their authority, by permitting student dormitories to be constructed in Lakewood, where the zoning ordinance does not permit them.

In January, 2022, a Yeshiva sought permission to construct a standalone dormitory for 180 high school students. We were retained by neighbors of the school to oppose this dramatic expansion. Immediately upon being retained, we pointed out to the Planning Board that a student dormitory is not a permitted use in this residential zone. Therefore, any application to build such a dorm would need a variance from the Zoning Board, not simple site plan approval from the Planning Board. We pointed out that, given that a variance was needed, the Planning Board did not have the authority or jurisdiction to hear the application.

The Planning Board disagreed with us. They claimed that, in Lakewood, they have always treated anytime that “schools” are a permitted use, as including student dormitories as well. This is based what is called an “accessory use”- that if something is so inextricably linked to a permitted use, it must also be permitted. We argued vociferously that a dormitory was not a proper accessory use, but the Planning Board ignored our concern, and followed their long standing practice of permitting dorms anywhere that schools are permitted.

We challenged this determination in Superior Court. Judge Marlene Ford issued an order agreeing with that a dormitory is not an “accessory use” to schools. Judge Ford relied heavily on the fact that “accessory uses” cannot be intensive uses, which change the character of the neighborhood. Permitting dormitories of this sort does just that.

The Yeshiva appealed Judge Ford’s decision. After oral arguments a few weeks ago, before three appellate Judges, the Appellate Division unanimously agreed with Judge Ford and our firm, ending the practice in Lakewood of pretending that the Zoning Ordinance provides for dorms to be constructed almost anywhere, when it does not.

Clearly, student dormitories have their place. But where this place is should be determined by careful planning, either through a reasoned change to the Zoning Ordinance, or on a case by case basis, by requests for a variance before the Zoning Board. What is improper, and is now, thankfully, a thing of the past, is the practice of putting dormitories anywhere, despite the Zoning Ordinance providing for them in this way. It is our sincere hope that the leaders of Lakewood will use this opportunity to re-evaluate the Zoning Ordinance, and ensure that growth is achieved in a reasoned, planned manner, not haphazardly mixing large dormitories in with single family residences.

Remember there should be room for everyone to live in a community and being able to enjoy the quality of life in their home. We should all strive for responsible and appropriate developments and not pushing inconsiderate projects to the detriment of others. Is development of a particular property always so important that it must be done at all cost, even when it impacts your neighbor? We say it is not.


The Law Offices of Jan Meyer & Associates PC., located in Teaneck, New Jersey and New York represented the objectors in this matter. The firm currently employ 10 attorneys. The practice is primarily a litigation practice with focus on complex litigation, serious personal injury cases, New Jersey land-use law, real estate and other specialty litigation.

The Appellate decision, Red Oaks et al. v Township of Lakewood, can be found under docket number A-2146-22


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  1. Thank you, Mr. Meyer for being an effective advocate on behalf of the residents.

    Far too often applicants push their weight around and use various pressure tactics to stuff whatever they like into our neighborhoods, to the neighbor’s detriment.

    It’s not that residents are not sensitive to the wants of those applicants. It is rather that those applicants are INsensitive to the needs of the existing neighbors.

    Proper planning rules apply to everyone in our society. Just like you cannot stick a gas station or large supermarket in the middle of a residential block, the same is true for a large dormitory building – especially the monstrosity that was proposed.

    Neither schools nor anyone else should ever take advantage of whatever special courtesies were extended to them due to our appreciation of their missions. There is a limit to what people will tolerate.

    Hopefully, this institution will make the right choices going forward so peace can prevail.

    • over centuries and millenia, where there were yeshivos there was hope, education, and continuity. where there wasn’t there was none. records show that there was local opposition to almost every yeshiva in Europe, where are their children today? only the yeshiva boys survived with their beliefs, studies, and practice intact.

      we all hope the same for all of Lakewood’s children, that they carry the torch further, our hope is not that they become bike riders, although there is nothing wrong with that, still our aspiration is that they become the next generation of community leaders and that can only happen in a yeshiva environment.

      in the old country better neighbors would invite the boys over for meals and women would bring food and supplies to the yeshiva.

      to say not welcome to a yeshiva is similar the old maskilim in Lita who’s progeny left the old path and became leftist zionists. they just copied what they saw by their parents.

      think how you will be perceived by the next generation. history is not always forgiving.

      • This is not historically accurate. For well over the 1st century after the founding of the Chasidic movement they did not have Yeshivas but they had the most continuity (& contrary to what many believe) had many many learned men. The Rebbes of course were not Anti learning. They were against the “Elitism” that plagued the Yeshivas. A town had a Bais Medrash, a Shul, a Shteibel, etc which had no Rosh Yeshiva, No Mashgiach, No required schedule or “Kinas” for being late.
        A Chasid gives a shiur that attracts learners, great! A Chasid learns all day, wonderful. He decides to work half a day, that’s fine. A Chasid needs to work full time that’s ok too. This provided a very rich Jewish life unparalleled elsewhere & had the best chance of passing down passionate Yiddishkeit to the next generation all without what we call “Yeshivas”

        • thank you for the filibuster history course, chassidim also faced alot of opposition and these “neighborhood quality” creeps would fight a chassidishe shtiebel as well if not more, this is as un American as it is anti Judaica, and alot of these stories are very s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d.

          • How is it “Unamerican” to want to maintain your way of life?
            What bothers me more is the seemingly total lack of Menschlichkeit quoted by many from the Yeshivas leadership. (I saw a video of this from a known Ruv & was never so appalled & embarrassed to be a Frum Yid in my life )
            I would never send my son to a Yeshiva that didn’t think teaching them how to be Menschlich to others, Frum & Non, Jewish & Non, etc. is as important as how many Blatt Gemarah they “know cold”
            “Derech Eretz Kudma L’Torah” is not a cute jingle, catchy slogan or invention of the “Tikkun Olam” crowd. It literally defines the entire reason for the existence of every Yid.

  2. Many times the schools are the first ones to build more outside of the established neighborhoods.
    once the school is there, residents feel comfortable moving to that neighborhood.
    then the residents scream foul against the school.

  3. What’s disturbing about a dormitory?
    A store or gas station brings a lot of traffic and noise but lakewood school dorms aren’t disruptive, are they? Why would it bother the residents to have some boys around? They don’t get loud or wild or anything.

    I agree in general that zoning laws should be kept. But it seems that this is a situation where our community’s needs are a little different than the norm. We have lots of small and medium sized yeshivas w dorms, not just a few huge universities. So it’s hard to have limited areas zoned for dorms. What’s the big deal?

    • “They don’t get loud or wild anything.”
      Of course not! Who could possibly imagine teenage boys doing anything that would distutb their neighbors?

      • they learn and pray all day and that is an immense help to the neighbors and their children, so what if they sing together some times? so what?!
        we believe that Torah study is in itself and also brings along the greatest blessings!!!
        how about you?
        don’t you believe?

        • Dormitories are known to be hefker. Almost zero supervision. A bachur in 12th grade supervising 9thgraders, isn’t supervision.

        • Do you believe a Yeshiva has a right to ruin the quality of life because they “bring the greatest blessings”?
          Does a Yeshiva have a right to disturb people’s sleep because they bring blessings?
          Does a Yeshiva have the right to dirty the streets & yards with discarded garbage because they bring the greatest blessings?
          Here’s the real questions, “Do you believe “Derech Eretz Kudma L’Torah” or the reverse?”
          Do you believe Hillel was wrong when he said, “What you don’t like don’t do to your neighbor, that is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary, go & learn”?
          Do you believe if the Buchrim are “Davening shtark” & “Shteiging away” then who cares how much they negatively affect the neighbors?
          Do you believe a Yeshiva that treats it’s neighbors with disdain & arrogance really brings the greatest blessings to anyone?

    • Really?? This particular school has their boys being wild and loud at 2 & 3 in the morning waking up the surrounding neighbors and young children as testified at the planning board. They also have late night kumzitzen with terribly loud music which can be heard almost a block away during the summer months. Their boys leave trash in the neighbors yards. And, they also park their cars in the neighboring development and take away the already limited parking available to the neighbors, even though supposedly the “official” school policy forbids them from bringing cars to school. Calls to the staff about these issues have not helped the situation.

      Who are you kidding?!

      • Thank you for clarifying.
        I was not familiar with the particular school in question.
        Agreed, those problems do affect the neighbors.
        Flying J, I don’t know if you’re talking from personal experience or if you are just guessing. If you have experienced those things, then I understand why you’re upset. If you’re guessing, I believe you may not be familiar with the high quality of most yeshiva bochurim in Lakewood.

        Bottom line, every single person must consider the impact of everything they do on those around them.

        • Most Yeshiva Bachurim in Lakewood are the same as Bachurim around the rest of the world. Teenagers require supervision. Fact. You might think your teenager is an angel, but he’s not. Hire a PI to check on what he’s up to when no one is watching. You might be very surprised. Do you know at what age Bachurim start vaping and smoking? The age when you send them to a yeshiva dorm. Why? Because there’s no supervision. Stop being an Ostrich.

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