Panel says no to 62nd Street ‘warehouse yeshiva’

A local panel has rejected a plan by an illegally operating yeshiva to go legit because it fears the school’s buses will clog traffic on the narrow one-way street where it is located.

Community Board 11 voted unanimously last Thursday against a plan by Yeshiva Ore Mordechai to legalize the school that operated out of a warehouse on 62nd Street between 15th and 16th avenues last year before being fined $5,000 and forced to move by the city because it didn’t have the proper permits.

The yeshiva is seeking a special permit to reopen the school in the warehouse’s top two floors.

Buy CB11 members and residents complained that school buses coming and going on the busy commercial street would increase traffic, block driveways and take away valuable parking spaces from trucks making deliveries to local businesses.

“I can’t have my driveway taken away from me,” said Lou Campanella, who owns factory across from the building where the school would like to reopen.

And Alex Caperna, a woodworker with a shop on 62nd Street, said the street couldn’t handle any more traffic.

“The block’s already tied up [with trucks],” Caperna said. “With school buses it would be disastrous.”

But supporters defended the school, claiming fears of a traffic nightmare were overblown.

“I don’t see how the school is going to bring more traffic to the area,” said Tovia Fleischman, a parent of a student at the school who pointed out that buses would only stop on the block during drop-off and pick-up hours.

The 14-year-old yeshiva rented several spaces after it was founded before buying the 62nd Street building in 2008.

Last winter, the Department of Buildings kicked the students out of the warehouse because it was zoned for manufacturing, and it did not have an active sprinkler system or enough emergency exits, according to city records.

School administrators declined to comment.

In the event that the yeshiva is allowed to return, it would have to bring the warehouse up to code to comply with safety regulations, and the city would be ban parking during school hours around the building to accommodate school buses.

Abe Herbst, who has three children enrolled at the yeshiva, said parents were told the school would move from its cramped temporary facilities on 18th Avenue and 53rd Street and 14th Avenue and 45th Street into the warehouse by November, after the renovations updating the building’s sprinklers and exits were completed.

Now that isn’t looking likely, he said.

“I’m upset,” said Herbst. “We want a legalized use of that building.”

The yeshiva could still make a comeback despite the board’s ruling, however, as final say on the project rests with the Board of Standards and Appeals, which is scheduled to review the proposal later this fall.

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