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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Basketball league kicked out of Jewish Center

By STEPHANIE AKIN
Staff Writer

The Jewish Center must stop leasing its gymnasium to a basketball league, the Fair Lawn Zoning Board has ruled.

In a 6-1 vote yesterday, the board denied the Jewish Center’s appeal of a September 2007 decision that it was unlawfully operating a commercial business in a residential neighborhood.

Residents have complained for more than a year about the sound of whistles, crowd noise and even post-game fights in the Alexander Avenue parking lot.

Representatives of the center have said they have complied with residents’ requests to reduce neighborhood disruptions and wanted to keep the contract with the International Youth Basketball league because it was an important source of revenue. The league held as many as four games a night on weeknights last spring and had games all day on many weekends, according to its Web site.

Leonard Kaufmann, an attorney for the Jewish Center, said his clients are considering their options, including appealing the decision, modifying the lease to address the zoning board concerns or not leasing the gymnasium to a league at all.

“We feel that our legal position, which is that we feel we are permitted to have basketball play in the gym, including played by a tenant, was completely vindicated,” Kaufmann said. “The Zoning Board did raise some issues about this particular tenant. If the basketball were to continue, those concerns would certainly be addressed.”

The board will sign a resolution finalizing its decision at its meeting next month, after which the Jewish Center will have 45 days to file an appeal.

The Jewish Center must stop leasing its gymnasium to a basketball league, the Fair Lawn Zoning Board has ruled.

In a 6-1 vote yesterday, the board denied the Jewish Center’s appeal of a September 2007 decision that it was unlawfully operating a commercial business in a residential neighborhood.

Residents have complained for more than a year about the sound of whistles, crowd noise and even post-game fights in the Alexander Avenue parking lot.

Representatives of the center have said they have complied with residents’ requests to reduce neighborhood disruptions and wanted to keep the contract with the International Youth Basketball league because it was an important source of revenue. The league held as many as four games a night on weeknights last spring and had games all day on many weekends, according to its Web site.

Leonard Kaufmann, an attorney for the Jewish Center, said his clients are considering their options, including appealing the decision, modifying the lease to address the zoning board concerns or not leasing the gymnasium to a league at all.

“We feel that our legal position, which is that we feel we are permitted to have basketball play in the gym, including played by a tenant, was completely vindicated,” Kaufmann said. “The Zoning Board did raise some issues about this particular tenant. If the basketball were to continue, those concerns would certainly be addressed.”

The board will sign a resolution finalizing its decision at its meeting next month, after which the Jewish Center will have 45 days to file an appeal.