Judge to Decide Fate of Illegal Dumps
The fate of two illegal dumps in Lakewood and Jackson Townships, that a Rabbi claims is filled with discarded religious materials, is in the hands of an Ocean County Superior Court Judge.
Following a hearing Friday July 27th, Superior Court Judge Craig L. Wellerson is deciding on a motion filed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) against Rabbi Chaim Abadi of Lakewood, Congregation Minyan Shelanu and several associates concerning two massive illegal landfills they constructed in Lakewood and Jackson Townships. NJDEP Press Director Larry Ragonese says Abadi had a court order that required him to remove the materials and the Rabbi did not comply.
Ragonese says they want the Ocean County Superior Court Judge to enforce his order to make the Rabbi remove these materials to a better and safer place. He says during the hearing the Rabbi didn't testify, did not come with an Attorney and therefore the Judge concluded testimony in the case and he'll be ruling very soon on the legal papers in this matter.
According to Ragonese, "this is a really simple matter that has nothing to do with religion. In New Jersey, you just can not dig large holes and dump materials wherever you feel like and in this case there are two large landfills created." Ragonese goes on to say, "one of these illegal landfills was actually created near a water source. We don't know what's in those bags. We don't know for sure what was happening there and we only discovered this because some neighbors and concerned people called us and said what's going on here.
Ragonese says the NJDEP tried to work something out with Rabbi Abadi. He says the Rabbi found a place that seemed to be a location that could be acceptable. The court required the Rabbi to remove the materials from one site in Lakewood and put it in the acceptable location and then if there was room left , to take what he had buried in Jackson and also move it to the acceptable location. He says, "Unfortunately, neither has happened".
Concerning similar situations, Ragonese says If you're creating a religious cemetery that might have an artifact cemetery with it, you don't need DEP approval. What you do need is you need to go to the Department of Consumer Affairs, The State Cemetery Board. You need to get their approval and then you also need to go through the local zoning process and go through your regular land use process. He says there's no indication that Rabbi Abadi even attempted to take either of these steps.
The NJDEP filed the motion against Abadi and Hard Maple Realty LLC, Vincezo Metee, Champion Subcontracting and Congregation Minyan Shelanu Inc.
The NJDEP is asking the Judge to impose a fine of $1,000 for every day the dump sites remain.