Yeshiva closes as it addresses violations

Sewage spill and unlicensed business add to longstanding problems


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  • O'Hel Toro Yeshiva (Photo by Edie Johnson)



By Edie Johnson
— A O'Hel Toro Yeshiva on Greycourt Road in Chester is addressing several code violations, including a faulty septic system that spilled raw sewage outside of the building and, inside, the continued operation of O'Hel Toro Food Service Corporation without the needed approvals.

Chester building inspector Joe Mlcoch told The Chronicle that the school, which sits next to the former Camp LaGuardia property, remains closed. He believes the owner is now addressing the violations.

The owner is expected to appear before the Chester Planning Board by the end of May, he said. The board will likely address the question of whether the facility is licensed to operate as a school.

In addition to past violations racked up by O'Hel Yoro, and the recent sewage spill, new problems surfaced last August when the Yeshiva applied to the Chester planning board to expand the building to accommodate 15 additional students besides the 65 they already have. Pat Hines, then the town engineer for the planning department, told the owner he would have to produce a license from the state showing they were authorized to function as a school.

As of this week, the front entrance remains sealed. But a plumber and workmen were on site apparently doing some general cleanup.

Mlcoch said the Yeshiva is still in the application stage and has no building permit or certificate of occupancy. The school itself is a permitted use, according to the town zoning for the property, he said.

"The county and the town are working with them to try to remedy the situation, but they need to firm up their approvals," he said.

The Orange County Department of Health needs to give the go-ahead for the septic system. And a related case on the violations is still pending in court.

The school could face up to $200,000 in fines because of its history of violations, and for ignoring the department of health's orders to close.

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