Yeshiva plan submitted to New Windsor planning board

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 8/15/23

The New Windsor Planning Board welcomed back the project known as Yeshiva Ohr Naftoli for a required public hearing held and closed on Wednesday, August 9 at the town hall. Planning board comments …

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Yeshiva plan submitted to New Windsor planning board


The New Windsor Planning Board welcomed back the project known as Yeshiva Ohr Naftoli for a required public hearing held and closed on Wednesday, August 9 at the town hall. Planning board comments will need to be addressed prior to the return of the project, and no determinations were made.

Yeshiva Ohr Naftoli, as it is known today, is a privately operated Jewish educational institution. The institution provides education to high school through college age students. The site, a reported 51 acres, sits at the corner of Route 94 and Forge Hill Road.

The site once served as the home of the Episcopal Order of St. Helena until it was purchased in 2009. The planning board had previously declared itself lead agency prior to the Wednesday night meeting and had approved a public hearing to be set for the project, which required notices to be sent out to the neighboring properties.

The proposed project would see the construction of a new student dormitory facility, new offices and classrooms, a cafeteria and a gymnasium for the current students and faculty at the school. The applicant will also be looking to make additional site improvements for the project.

Returning before the planning board Wednesday night was the firm Engineering and Surveying Properties, represented by engineers Ruben Buck and Ross Winglovitz on behalf of the applicant. Buck reported to the board that the site plan has had minor modifications done to it, soil testings were conducted and a stormwater report has been prepared by them.

On Wednesday night, Betty Ann Yarus, a resident of Route 94, addressed several concerns in commentary.

“One of the attributes of 94 is the beauty of what the vegetation provides and the privacy that the Yeshiva now enjoy,” she said. “ I saw there is a plan for vegetation but I’m concerned that that plan will be adhered to and sufficient.”

For Yarus, she would hopefully like to see similar natural coverage that was added during the construction of the Amber Grove Senior Apartments complex along Forge Hill Road years ago which is directly adjacent to the school property. Yarus also questioned the design of the buildings in response to which a Yeshiva representative presented a booklet of renderings that shared similarities to college campus structures on-site. The buildings would also follow a similar brick construction that is already present at the school.

Rabbi Ahron Yosef Pitter, Principal of the Yeshiva, said the previous New Windsor Police Chief Robert Doss had recommended less vegetation which would provide more visibility from the street for security purposes.

“In the past, there was better screening,” said Pitter.

Another concern of Yarus was that she questioned if there were any plans to add housing for adults on the site. The Yeshiva representative stated that there have been no plans for that. Furthermore, the town would need to review the zoning specifications for that area and if there were any plans to add housing, that project would have to come back before the board.

Additionally, Yarus also brought up the concern about fire access, about which the planning board had received a letter from the New Windsor Fire Marshal stating that the project has been disapproved thus far and would need further review.

Marilyn Maisonet, another concerned resident, questioned the payment of water and sewer bills by the Yeshiva. Rabbi Pitter said the Yeshiva did struggle financially for several years but now all of their financial bills and matters have been resolved.

Comments prepared by MHE Engineering have noted that the project is located within the R-4 Zoning District and thus the proposed use for the school is through a special use permit. As of the meeting, plans for water and sewer facilities were submitted and were in need of review, and the applicant will be required to obtain a water main extension from the Orange County Department of Health. All documents and plans are available for public viewing at the New Windsor Town Hall.