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Hatikvah Says Appeal of Variance is Baseless

Residents are challenging approval to renovate a warehouse into a school.

The spokesman for the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School says an appeal filed against them is baseless.

The appeal, filed last week, challenges a variance allowing the school to renovate a warehouse into a school building.

“The appeal is nothing more than a baseless nuisance suit brought by opponents of the school meant to delay the project. The school did everything by the book: it complied with all of the recommendations and proposed modifications as suggested by the Township Engineer’s staff and all of the recommendations of the East Brunswick Board of Education as set forth in a memorandum submitted to the Zoning Board of Adjustment during the course of the hearing, including, the construction of an additional drop off area for buses. The Zoning Board then unanimously approved the site plan and variance, determining that the use at the site was ‘inherently beneficial’ under state law. We are confident, therefore, that the governing body will affirm the decision of the Zoning Board,” Dan Gerstein, spokesman for Hatikvah, said in a statement.

The variance, approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment in July, allows Hatikvah  to renovate a 557,379-square-foot warehouse at 7 Lexington Ave. into a school. The building is located in a planned industrial zone and a variance is needed to open a school in the zone.

The appeal was filed by Deborah E. Cornavaca and Christine Rampolla, two critics of the school, on Aug. 20.

"Legitimate concerns for students’ safety should never be considered a nuisance. We should all be able to work together on decisions this important to our community,” said Rampolla.

The appeal states that the variance should not have been granted because “there was a conflict of interest,” that “the board did not permit a complete record to be made,” the “applicant failed to show that the relief can be granted without substantial detriment to the public good,” and “the applicant failed to show that the relief sought will not substantially impair the intent and purpose of the zone plan and zoning ordinance.”

Cornavaca agreed, saying that they have nothing against the school, but are looking out for the safety of students and the community.

“Our primary concern is the safety of all students in our community and the hazards of placing a public school on a warehouse strip.  While the zoning board considered traffic studies and architectural plans, they did not give adequate consideration to the safety of the children attending school in a warehouse and the appropriateness of that environment for an elementary school. Moreover, we believe a conflict of interest created by the school’s attorney also representing our municipality's Planning Board contributed to the public’s concerns not being addressed,” said Cornavaca.

The attorney representing Hatikvah during the hearing is Lawrence Sachs, who also serves as the township Planning Board attorney.

Business Administrator James White said the appeal would be heard by the Township Council. As a requirement of the appeal, the plaintiff’s were required to furnish minutes of the appropriate zoning board meetings.

All transcripts can be found on the townships website at  http://www.eastbrunswick.org/content/885/101/default.aspx  and then choosing "Zoning Board," then "Minutes," then "2012." The relevant transcripts are the minutes from the meetings on June 7, 2012,  July  5, 2012  and August 2, 2012.

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Alex F September 20, 2012 at 11:54 AM
So the school considers matters of student safety a "nuisance"?
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 12:02 PM
John , I noticed that you now call the two women who have brought this baseless lawsuit "critics" and still don't identify them accurately as leaders of the Save Our Schools" anti-charter school movement who are funded by the New Jersey State Teachers Unions and supported by the EB Board of Education. The Save Our Schools Movement gets funding and organizational support from the teachers unions which recieve more than 200 million dollars a year from taxpayers in union dues. Almost $1,000 per teacher in New Jersey- to support political campaigns, buy media and fight parental choice, If you are writing a fair and balanced article you should identify all the participants. I was a former board member of Hatikvah, my child attends the school. It is a wonderful school as most parents who have children who attend will tell you. These attacks by the EB Board of Ed and teachers union via surrogates are merely to harrass and delay the building of a beautiful new facility for EB children just as all the hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars in unsuccessful lawsuits by the EB Board of Ed against the charter school where.its time to stop fighting the charter school and start celebrating its success and work with it.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Ms. Cornavaca is being disengenuous to say the least about only filing this because of her "concerns" for student safety due to her affiliation with Save our Schools and past resistance to the charter school, as well as her support from the EB Board of Ed and NJ teachers Unions who help organizationally and with legal proceedings.
57chevy September 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Have you no shame, Mr. Goldstein? Slandering two stay-at-home moms in town? You are a bully, sir. I happen to know both women. One is a PTA president, library board member and friend of the environment member. The other runs a club for stay at home moms in town. Is this what standing up to bullies in town gets you now?
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 02:18 PM
57 chevy you are ridiculous. I posted a reply to an article which calls these two women critics but they are not being totally truthful about their motivation or alliances. What is bullying about that?
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Have you no shame for slandering someone as a bully for inquiring as to a persons motivation and support?
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 02:41 PM
from a prior article on East brunswick Patch- John you identified these two women in a prior article a few months ago as advocates for Save Our Schools but have not done so in the preceding 2 articles. they obviously have a much wider agenda than just student safety as it concerns the students of Hatikvah. Asa parent of the a student attending speaking for many of the other parents who have children attending Hatikvah- we have absolutley no concerns about the area in which the building is going to be placed. We seemed to be seconded by the Zoning and building department in East Brunswick who think that it is a wonderful building and location. We appreciate christine and Deborah's concerns for our children but we thin that perhaps they are not being totally honest in their motives for challenging a great school. Hoe you can follow up the article with a more fair and balanced view of exactly what is going on here. All the facts. Thanks."Christine Rampolla and Deborah Cornavaca, both members of Save Our Schools New Jersey, have been petitioning the council and school board to support the Assembly proposal, which counts Assembly Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., and Assemblyman J. Barnes III (who represent East Brunswick) as co-sponsors."
Alex F September 20, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Michael, would you please disclose how you know one of the Zoning Board members David Rosenthal who voted 'yes' on the original use variance?
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Alex F -first you have to tell me your full name and why you are scanning my facebook page?
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I have another 1700 friends- most of them in East Brunswick if you also checked-some include the Mayor and council people. But I wouldn't want to scare anyone
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I also am friends with Governor Christie, Barack Obama and about 50 other NJ politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Julia September 20, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Mr. Goldstein, Your are lying and trying to slander Save Our Schools NJ. If you do not stop, I will personally pay for an attorney to bring you up on slander charges. Save Our Schools NJ is a completely grassroots, all volunteer organization with more than 9,000 members across the State. We are not even incorporated and operate with absolutely no funding. Save Our Schools NJ is NOT against charter schools. My daughter attends Princeton Charter School and we have other members with children in charter schools. We are working to reform New Jersey's charter school law because that law is broken. In fact, the NJ Charter School Association agrees with us that the law needs to be revised. We are working to improve the charter law by increasing accountability, transparency, ensuring charter schools educate the demographic makeup of their districts in terms of children with special needs, children who are low-income and children who have limited English proficiency, and to give local communities the ability to decide if a new charter school should open in their community. Your battles in East Brunswick are your own business, but you have to stop the slander and lies about Save Our Schools NJ or you will face legal consequences.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Julia, I welcome the legal challenge and your accusations of slander into your supposed grass roots organization and its attacks against non-union charter schools. Because you know that you and the teachers union are working hand in hand together to defeat non-union charters. So go for it. You are hiding behind a non-profit but your intention is to destroy non-union schools.
Julia September 20, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Mr. Goldstein, Save Our Schools NJ is not incorporated. That means we are not even a nonprofit. Just a group of citizens coming together to ensure that every child in New Jersey has access to a high quality public education. WE HAVE NO FUNDING. About 15% of NJ charter schools are unionized. You appear to hate unions, but what this has to do with charter schools is unclear. Please present proof to support your lies here in this public forum. It would help your legal case, no? So let's see it.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:13 PM
For Julia and her legal case from a prominent website, The Role of Unions In NJ's Charter School Wars In NJ we have three forms of public school choice: 1. The Interdistrict Public School Choice Program (IPSCP), 2. Magnet schools, which are county-run and sometimes far pricier and exclusive than the local traditional schools from which they draw their enrollment (see here for discussion of Bergen Academies). 3. Charter schools. There's one key difference among the three: In other words, a substantive difference among our public school choice programs in NJ is that staff members in magnets and IPSCP schools are unionized, while staff members in charter schools are not required to be dues-paying members of NJEA (or our 5 chapters of AFT). Also worth noting is that the primary lobbyists for Bill A3582, Save Our Schools-NJ, reserves its opposition to school choice to charter schools, not magnets or IPSCP. The bill the group is pushing, A 3582, would require local voter approval for only charters, not magnets or IPSCP. The group's website announces, "communities must pay to run those charter schools and the funds for doing so come out of the host districts’ school budgets." But, of course, communities also pay tuition for kids enrolled in IPSCP schools and magnet schools. SOS-NJ is silent on those costs. Maybe charters' lack of union card requirements is irrelevant. Maybe not. You decide.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:16 PM
The length and breadth the unions will go to to silence critics threatening lawsuits, spying on people and making false accusations. Julia I am thinking orf retaining cousel and suing both you and Alex f. How's them apples.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Julia, The two women bringing the lawsuit against my daughters school are prominent members of your organization- do you disavow their lawsuit and do you repudiate their actions?
Julia September 20, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Mr. Golstein, Charter schools can also be unionized in NJ and about 15% are. Rutgers found that 73% of NJ residents agree with Save Our Schools NJ that local communities should be able to decide if a new charter schools opens in their midst. Many of those individuals support charter schools but do not believe that any government should be able to force a new school on a community, especially when that community pays for that school. Save Our Schools NJ does not have a position on magnet schools because they are not a pressing public policy issues, but we have proposed modifications to the Inter District Public Schools Choice program that include a requirement of community agreement before children can participate. I am still waiting for the proof to support your lies about Save Our Schools NJ.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Julia, Do you deny that they are prominent members of your group, that they do not have children who attend Hatikvah, that they are bringing this frivilous suit just as you would against me to silence and destroy a non-union school. Not very American of you Julia. Not sure how a court is going to look at you trying to silence someone who is only exercising their 1st Amendmant rights.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:27 PM
What lies do you refer to Julia. the only one who appears to be hiding things and lying is you and your friend Alex and the two women who brought the lawsuit in the first place.
Julia September 20, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Mr. Golstein, Save Our Schools NJ does NOT take positions on opening or closing individual charter schools because we believe strongly that each community should be able to decide for itself. That is the essence of local control. The one exception we made was to fight to keep Emily Fisher Charter School in Trenton open because we felt that the closing of that school by the NJ DOE was a violation of community wishes. Save Our Schools NJ has over 9,000 members across the State. Deborah and Chris are among them. However, their local efforts in East Brunswick are not part of the work of Save Our Schools NJ.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:28 PM
You seem very defensive for someone who isn't hiding where her support comes from?
Julia September 20, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Mr. Golstein, I am still waiting for the proof to support your lies.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Julia everyone on this post sees your big lie- right here "Save Our Schools NJ has over 9,000 members across the State. Deborah and Chris are among them. However, their local efforts in East Brunswick are not part of the work of Save Our Schools NJ."
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Tell that to the Judge when you sue me. I hope he/she gets as big a laugh out of it as everyone else will.
Julia September 20, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Mr. Golstein, For the third time, Save Our Schools NJ has NO FUNDING. We are totally grass roots. I am still waiting for the proof of your lies.
Julia September 20, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Mr. Goldstein, You do not appear to have taken your medication today so I think our conversation is done. You are welcome to write whatever you want about charter schools and policy efforts, but you must refrain from slander and lies about individuals or organizations or you will face legal action.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Julia, I'm done posting. As they say in poker - put up or#######. I think everyone knows who and what your organization is and what it stands for by your own comments. As my Grandmother Frieda a survivor of the camps used to say when dealing with people who hate- goodbye and good luck to you. I'm still standing.
ks September 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM
schools are for everyone. considering hatikvah has enrolled 172 children, it seems there is a need for this type of school. though i have been a public school teacher for over 15 years, far be it from me to stand in the way of parents and teachers who are looking for an alternate form of education. one size does not fit all. both my children attend east brunswick schools, but i can also see a day where maybe the district is not the best fit for my own children-you never know. also, the international baccaulareate program(excuse my spelling) is an amazing program-research based and a real incredible learning experience. my own high school(public) had this program. if it weren't for the special magnet it applied for and received, i would not have become a teacher. schools come in all shapes and sizes and it's important to allow everyone to choose and let the system work.
Anne September 28, 2012 at 06:43 PM
KS- where did you come up with the number 172? do you work for the school?

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