Many Lakewood residents are under the mistaken impression that all simcha halls in Lakewood’s schools are now legal and do not require a variance.
This is due to an appellate court’s ruling about one specific school – a ruling that has been misconstrued by some in the media as meaning something that it doesn’t.
A little background: Bais Reuven Kaminetz has a simcha hall on its premises, which it received Township approval for as an accessory use to the school.
Neighbors of the school were not happy about having a simcha hall operating in their neighborhood and thus filed a lawsuit against it. However, by law the neighbors only had 45 days to file a suit challenging the approval or legality of the simcha hall. Thus, they had only one recourse: attempting to invalidate the township’s approval of the simcha hall.
They did this by charging in court documents that the public notice for the simcha hall in the school was insufficient and thus its approval should have never taken place.
The judges ruled against this charge and stated that the simcha hall in the school was a permitted accessory use for school functions and furthermore, did not require a variance because the approval was for accessory uses. Meaning, the school can use it for its own purposes (dinners, school events, etc.). The judge did not rule that the simcha hall can be rented out by people making a simcha; in fact, it was stipulated quite clearly that such use of the hall would be illegal.
The ruling was also applicable to only this case; it has no impact on the legality of simcha halls in other schools, and it certainly didn’t say that all simcha halls in Lakewood schools are legal and don’t require a special variance.