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Dozens of Complaints Logged Against Yeshiva for Illegal Construction

By Janet Upadhye | November 18, 2014 7:23am
 United Talmudical Academy is in violation of two New York City codes, according to the DOB.
United Talmudical Academy is in violation of two New York City codes, according to the DOB.
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DNAinfo/Janet Upadhye

CLINTON HILL — A yeshiva is illegally using a factory building as a school and has racked up a litany of complaints about illegal construction, according to Department of Buildings records.

Neighbors have a laundry list of grievances about United Talmudical Academy, located at 25 Waverly Ave., which include the use of the street as a parking lot for school buses and students who harass women in nearby buildings and throw garbage out the window.

Now neighbors say the school is doing construction — including waterproofing the roof and working on the elevator shaft — without a permit at all hours of day and night.

Four complaints were made to the DOB on Nov. 6, prompting the department's emergency response team, which responds to complaints that are deemed hazardous and in need of immediate attention, to inspect the building.

One caller said that they were doing work on the building after 6 p.m. during the week and all day on Sunday, records show.

Inspectors issued a stop work order on the site the next day because of construction work being done in the building's elevator shaft without a permit, according to the DOB.

The agency found that workers were weatherproofing an abandoned shaft, had made illegal partitions and were using the building as a school illegally, the records show.

Two violations were also issued — for work without a permit that includes weatherproofing being done on the roof and occupancy contrary to use for a factory building being used as a school.

Over the next several days 12 more complaints were made to the department about continued construction at the building despite the DOB's order to stop.

A complaint made on Nov. 10 describes construction taking place at 2 a.m. on a Monday.

The most recent complaints were made on Nov. 14 for construction being done despite a stop work order. The results of that complaint were not immediately clear.

The building has three open violations for problems with the elevator and failure to maintain the structure, records show, and owes more than $5,000 in fines.

The yeshiva did not respond to a request for comment.

The unlawful construction at United Talmudical Academy comes in the wake of the school's effort to legalize the building. The yeshiva is attempting to secure a special permit to operate a school in a manufacturing zone through an application with city's Board of Standards and Appeals.

Schools are only allowed in industrial districts by special permit — but the yeshiva has occupied the building at 25 Waverly Ave., despite not having one, for more than 20 years, according to a representative for the school who spoke at a Community Board 2 meeting over the summer. 

The board voted unanimously to deny United Talmudical Academy's application. It is unclear where the school is in its application process. The Board of Standards and Appeals did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the DOB said the agency would investigate neighbors' complaints.