Yeshiva Cited For Illegal Building Conversion
After being open for several months, a school run by Congregation Darchei Torah, on Heyson Road in Far Rockaway, has been issued a vacate order and cited by the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Environmental Control Board (ECB) for illegally converting the former adult home into a school.
On January 24, the DOB ordered the entire building at 1214 Heyson Road to be vacated after an inspection earlier this year.
"The Buildings Department issued the vacate order after an inspection revealed that the three-story brick building had been illegally converted from a legal SRO to a private school," said Carly Sullivan, a spokesperson for the agency, in an e-mail to The Wave. "During the inspection, Buildings inspectors noted that the building lacked necessary egress [means of exit] and had inadequate fire protection and posed serious safety hazards to the students within the building."
DOB records show that the owners - New Haven Associates, LLC - filed last May for permits to renovate the former Hi-Li Manor building. On June 15, they were denied permits to change the building from Class B rooms to a Group 3 school.
On January 8, 2008, the Buildings Department issued a violation to the building owner for occupancy contrary to that allowed by Buildings Department records after an inspection showed the building had been illegally converted to a school.
Between January 22 and 24 of this year, the DOB and ECB served the Yeshiva with the following violations: occupancy contrary to DOB records, failure to provide means of exit for every floor, interior stair construction and enclosure fails to comply with required means of egress, exterior stairwell illegally used and fails to comply as required means of exiting, operation of a place of assembly without a current place of assembly permit, and boiler room enclosure located within 50 feet of place of assembly and fails to provide required fire rated enclosure.
"The penalty for each of these violations can be as high as $2,500; however, any fine imposed is at the discretion of the Environmental Control Board, the administrative court that adjudicates violations written by the Buildings Department," said Sullivan.
"To bring the building into compliance the building owner needs to restore the building to its prior legal condition or hire a licensed professional to file plans and permit applications with the Buildings Department to address the lack of egress and fire safety violations and meet all building and zoning requirements.
DOB issued a permit to City Development Group LLC on January 29 to renovate the existing building and remedy some of the violating conditions.
The permit does not provide for any changes in use of the building, means of exiting or type of occupancy.
The Wave was unsuccessful in its attempt to contact Yitzchok Goldstein, the secretary for New Haven Associates, for comment.
According to reports, other shuls and yeshivas in the area are working to help Congregation Darchei Torah's students during the renovation process.