Glendale Yeshiva hit with zoning violation

By Gabriel Rom

The United Talmudical Seminary in Glendale has been slapped with a violation from the city Department of Buildings for housing students on the yeshiva’s premises in violation of the school’s zoning regulations.

Issued on Oct. 16, the violation is for an illegal conversion, and states that the “school [is] altered to have dormitories outside of zoning regulation.”

The issuing of the violation follows complaints from Community Board 5 following months of anxiety within the community about the yeshiva’s adherence to city zoning regulations.

“Once we were quite sure that students were sleeping at the yeshiva, we filed a complaint and we asked that the previous certificate of occupancy allowances be audited,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. The complaint was filed in mid-September.

The violation came two days after Community Board 5 recommended that the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals deny an application from the yeshiva for a zoning variance to expand its building.

The board’s recommendation will be sent to the borough president’s office before a recommendation is made to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which has the final decision.

“I would imagine that this won’t help the yeshiva’s cause much with the BSA,” Giordano said.

While it was known that students were sleeping at the yeshiva, the number of students and specifics of the sleeping arrangements were not clear until recently, with representatives of the yeshiva presenting hard numbers and pictures from the seminary as they began pursuing a variance.

“The question really is whether it is permissible for dormitories and sleeping quarters to exist in a manufacturing zone at a school,” Giordano added.

The yeshiva is applying for a variance to construct more sleeping facilities on the property, which would ultimately house more than 700 students. The BSA has yet to announce when public hearings on the variance will begin.

“One of the reasons we’re opposed to that is because having the yeshiva expand would be very out of character within the community,” Giordano said.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.