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Community Board Says Yeshiva Should Move to South Williamsburg

By Janet Upadhye | June 20, 2014 7:17am
 United Talmudical Academy has operated in the zone illegally for two decades, according to Community Board 2.
United Talmudical Academy has operated in the zone illegally for two decades, according to Community Board 2.
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DNAinfo.com/Janet Upadhye

CLINTON HILL — A yeshiva has been operating illegally in Clinton Hill for two decades — and the community board is saying that the school should move to Williamsburg instead because that's where the Satmar community is "geographically concentrated."

Community Board 2 recently shot down the United Talmudical Academy's bid to continue to operate in a manufacturing zone because it doesn't have necessary permits — despite the school being there for more than 20 years.

Community board members shot down the permit in part because they say there are plenty of other sites for schools in southern Williamsburg, where most of the students live.

"The Yeshiva is a part of the Satmar community’s school system, a community geographically concentrated locally in present-day southern Williamsburg, not Wallabout or Clinton Hill," the board's resolution states.

The resolution goes on to call South Williamsburg "an area where hundreds of thousands of square feet of residential and community facility space was constructed during the 20 years that the school was in operation."

Schools are only allowed in industrial districts by special permit, issued by the city's Board of Standards and Appeals. But the yeshiva has occupied the building at 25 Waverly Ave. despite not having one, according to the board.

The recent desire to play by the rules was prompted by a change in leadership at the academy, according to CB2 District Manager Rob Perris.

Neighbors and the community board's resolution says the yeshiva, which serves boys in grades K-12, uses the area behind the building on Washington Avenue as a parking lot and for bus repair, often cleaning engines with power washers that flood the street with chemicals.

They also claim students throw furniture, food and garbage out the windows and into the streets and yards of neighboring properties.

And the board said there is plenty of room in non-industrial zones for the school.

The United Talmudical Academy, in particular its Williamsburg location, was highlighted in an award-winning DNAinfo New York series about providing limited instruction in English, math and science.

The owner of the building next door to the Clinton Hill school said his female tenants are harassed by unsupervised children who yell out the windows. His building is mixed-use under New York's loft conversion law.

"Many of my tenants keep their shades drawn during school hours so they won't get yelled at," said Peter Noel Duhamel who has owned the building at 66-68 Washington Ave. for nine years. "The students can be aggressive."

A representative from United Talmudical Academy did not respond to a request for comment.

The board voted unanimously to deny United Talmudical Academy's application. The Board of Standards and Appeals did not respond to a request for comment.