Peekskill Yeshiva’s New Expansion Plans Include Sewage Plant


elya-kanarek-2The Journal News reports: Plans to expand Yeshiva Ohr Hameir of Peekskill, a local yeshiva in Cortlandt led by Harav Elya Kanarek (seen in photo), are being revised and modified, and the latest version aired at Town Hall this week includes a proposal to build a new sewage treatment plant. Controversy and opposition developed around the expansion plan by Yeshiva Ohr Hameir when it was first proposed in 2007, and a group of residents remains critical. Nearby residents complained that the campus, an old dude ranch taken over by the school in the 1980s, had deteriorated badly and made a poor fit in the residential neighborhood. An antiquated septic system that was prone to leaking was another source of contention.The yeshiva, at 141 Furnace Woods Road, was blocked by the town from connecting to nearby municipal sewers – a petition signed by dozens of residents opposed the use of municipal sewers for the school – and now Ohr Hameir is proposing to build its own wastewater plant on the site. It has also scaled back its construction and expansion plans.

“It’s an entirely new application, to build a wastewater treatment plant, and renovate and modernize an existing building,” said David Steinmetz, an attorney representing the yeshiva. The plan would revise and modernize the “Dodge City” building. With the creation of an outdoor area, the building’s square footage would decline from 27,000 to 23,000 square feet.

The application to the town Planning Board says the yeshiva’s goal is to “simply create better living conditions and classroom space for the existing student population.” The enrollment of secondary-school students would be set at 225, a lower number than in previous applications.

Besides Planning Board approval, the sewage plant requires permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Westchester County Department of Health.

Steinmetz said the yeshiva would spend in the range of “substantial six figures” to build the wastewater plant, on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it already spent trying to unsuccessfully repair the older septic system.

The attorney said that the “application has no impacts on the community.” The yeshiva was a well-respected educational institution, he added, and the law affords special protection to religious groups regarding land-use issues.

Ed Vergano, Cortlandt’s director of technical services, said town officials had a lot to look at in the latest application.

“It’s been in limbo for a year and a half. We have to bring it up to speed. It has to be looked at very carefully,” he said. Vergano said the town was still looking at some of the legal issues involved in the school’s operation and its use of live-in dormitories.

A local resident who has been following the application, Phillip Tumbarello, questioned whether the proposed sewage plant would solve the problem of septic waste, noting that the treated wastewater would still need to be discharged somewhere.

In addition, he said, “I continue to have concerns about the school’s operation.”

Tumbarello said the site appeared overcrowded and far more dense than would be normally allowed in a residential area.

The school had numerous building and fire-code violations when the town began processing the expansion plan in 2007. The last inspection by the town indicates the problems were fixed.

{The Journal News/ Newscenter}


  1. I wish somebody would explain all of the new buildings going up in Peekskill, Buchanan & Cortlandt Manor. If the municipal sewage system does not have the capacity for the Yeshiva, how is all of this new construction allowed?????