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Thursday, November 20, 2014
Village claims shul violated permit rules
Lawrence residents say party tent caused flooding of their property
Courtesy Gloria and Willy Katz
According to Michael Ryder, the Village of Lawrence Building Department superintendent, Bais Medrash of Harborview constructed these wooden platforms without village permits.

A tent erected by Bais Medrash of Harborview, near the residential property of Gloria and Willy Katz, caused $4,000 in damage, according to the homeowners.

A Dec. 6 decision by the Village of Lawrence Board of Zoning Appeals allowed the shul to temporarily erect tents and host large catered parties. With the catering facility at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club out of commission after Hurricane Sandy, the shul needed a local venue for its functions.

The Katzes claim that the shul, at 214-218 Harborview South, should not have been allowed to set up the tents, based on the restrictions it agreed to with the village in 2009 that prohibit catering facilities or catering trucks on its property. “Having catering in the backyard is not a part of prayer,” said Gloria Katz. The Katzes live at 217 Harborview North, directly behind the shul.

Hearing loud noise emanating from the shul on Dec. 17, the Katzes saw wooden platforms being installed before the tent was erected. According to Gloria, the tent was put up five feet too close to their property, and rainwater that ran off the tent and pooled underneath the wooden platforms resulted in $4,000 worth of damage to their drainage system, according to an estimate by Marvin Garcia Corp. of Inwood. They plan to sue Bais Medrash for the damages.

“There are drainage issues on Harborview to begin with,” Gloria said, “and if the drainage is impeded, the water slides down onto our property and we’re in trouble. I’ve stayed up almost all night during a rainstorm worrying that my basement will be flooded.”

Erwin “Irving” Langer, the president of Bais Medrash and a Lawrence village trustee, could not be reached for comment as the Herald went to press.

The Katzes contacted Michael Ryder, superintendent of the village’s Building Department, and requested that Bais Medrash be issued summonses for violating the restrictions on catering. According to Ryder, six summonses were issued on Jan. 2, and two more on Jan. 4. “If there is a violation, we go on factual information and then witness the violation ourselves and record it,” he said. “A summons can be issued any time after the violation.”

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