Controversy looms over yeshiva's plans to convert church into a school

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There is a lot of finger pointing in Rockland County over a yeshiva's plans to convert a church into a school.

Yeshiva officials say Clarkstown is preventing the sale of a church, and calls it a clear case of discrimination.

A letter from the town's Zoning Board to the yeshiva says the town won't entertain an appeal by Ateres Bais Yaakov of Rockland to buy Grace Baptist Church in Nanuet after the yeshiva's contract with the church fell through.

"Our attorneys feel strongly that Clarkstown's actions are wrong and not in accordance with the law," says yeshiva Dean Rabbi Aaron Fink.

Fink tells News 12 the yeshiva will now sue Clarkstown for discrimination because officials prevented its purchase of the church by failing to award it a variance to use the property as a school.

Town Supervisor George Hoehmann says Clarkstown never had the chance to give the Yeshiva a variance in the first place because the academy never completed its contract to buy Grace Baptist. Hoehmann showed News 12 a letter from the church's attorneys, saying the contract with the Yeshiva was void.

However, Yeshiva officials say it had to terminate its contract after financial backers pulled out knowing it would never receive the necessary variance.

Grace Baptist Church remains up for sale at $4.9 million. The realtor for the property says he has several interested buyers, including the Nanuet School District and Town of Clarkstown.


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