New Hempstead will shut down the Ohr Torah yeshiva because the yeshiva's building was built illegally without any permits or approvals by Rabbi Mates Cantor about 10 tears ago. Cantor, and Australian, sold the property to Ohr Torah. Firefighters strenuously objected to the city's refusal to crack down on what they consider to be a major public safety hazard, and demanded the school be closed immediately and remain closed until a full and detailed inspection of the property is done. The city does not have copies of or access to the blueprints or plans for the building. The building does not have a certificate of occupancy.
New Hempstead's mayor wanted to "compromise" and allow Ohr Torah to remain open during the inspection process.
Enraged firefighters demanded it be closed immediately:
Gordon Wren Jr., a Hillcrest firefighter and former Ramapo building inspector who is the coordinator of the Rockland Office of Fire and Emergency Services, said localities shouldn’t send the message that people can illegally open a school and then make it legal if they get caught.
“You can’t just make a house into a school without licensed people reviewing what was done,” Wren said.
“How can the village tell if the work has been done properly inside the walls, if there are no building permits, no Planning Board approvals or inspections?” he said.
The Journal News reports that the firefighters prevailed.
New Hempstead and Wesley Hills incorporated as villages in 1983 to see that fire and building codes were actually being enforced – something they thought Ramapo was not adequately doing. Residents also wanted to preserve the single family home nature of their areas rather than have them converted to multiple family dwellings – which would have meant an influx of haredim.
The school was once a single-family home that has been expanded several times. The 5,282-square-foot building once had four bedrooms and 4½ baths. It is located in a single-family zone.
According to the Journal News,
Cantor sold the property to Ohr Torah for $995,000 in March 2011, according to adeed of sale filed with the Rockland County Clerk’s Office. The assessed value is $223,700 and the village property tax is $1,073, according figures from the Village Clerk’s Office.