The former Pace University campus’ new owner says its plan to operate a school for some 250 college-age students would have no negative impact on the neighborhood or community.
According to its application, Yeshivath Viznitz Dkhal Torath Chaim’s requested use for the 37-acre Elm Road campus meets all criteria of the special permit required to operate a school on the site.
The Monsey-based religious educational institution bought the campus in March from the Research Center on Natural Conservation for $11.75 million — well below its assessed value of $17.7 million. The parcel is currently on the tax rolls and the congregation would have to apply for tax-exempt status.
The 66-page document filed with the village June 18 by the law firm of Cuddy & Feder LLP states:
- The private school for male students ages 17 to 20 would have no adverse impact on the environment, traffic or services like police, fire and EMS coverage.
- The projected enrollment of 250 students — most of whom would live on campus — is far below the 700 residential and 400 commuter students allowed under Pace’s 1978 special permit, and before that, Briarcliff College’s estimated annual enrollment of 688.
- An estimated $3 million in renovations and expansion are proposed to the existing structures, with the yeshiva occupying three entirely and part of a fourth of the property’s nine buildings.
- An estimated two to three buses and four minivans per day would transport commuters to and from the site.
- The proposed yeshiva’s approximately 40 faculty and staff members would not live on campus, although short-term housing would be available.
- The proposed yeshiva would generate significantly less traffic than the former Pace campus during peak hours as well over the course of the day.
- Special traffic control measures would be used on holidays and graduations when higher attendance than normal would be anticipated.
A previously announced July 8 presentation before the Planning Board by the yeshiva’s representatives was scrubbed as the village reviews the application “to identify additional materials and information that may be required,” according to Village Manager Philip Zegarrelli’s weekly email.
Briarcliff officials have not commented on the application, but a link to the application posted on the Briarcliff Community Facebook page had generated some 100 comments after it was posted June 23 by the page’s administrator, village Trustee Peter Chatzky.
Some commenters expressed concerns over the congregation’s plans, in light of the Hasidic group’s ongoing legal tussle with the Village of South Nyack in Rockland County.
Since purchasing the former 107-acre Nyack College campus and other parcels for $45.5 million, Yeshivath Viznitz and South Nyack have been in court over the property’s use as a judge seeks to forge a settlement.
The sale ignited a movement to dissolve the riverside community of some 3,500 residents, and South Nyack is in the process of being dissolved as an incorporated village and will be governed by the Town of Orangetown.
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