The problems with the Lubavitch

Another Lubavitch chabad expands… community fights back
September 14, 2008, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: ,

Jewish Center Takes Center Stage

Posted by Shore Publishing on Sep 11 2008, 11:32 AM

From: The Guilford Courier


By Fay Abrahamsson, Courier Senior Staff Writer:

It was all about the applicant last week as hundreds of people squeezed themselves into the Whitfield Room at the Greene Community Center to hear the start of what is anticipated as a long public hearing concerning the Chabad-Lubavitch of the Shoreline, Inc.’s proposal to the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC).

Whether in favor or against the proposed Jewish center slated for Goose Lane, an overflowing crowd sat on the floor or leaned against the walls to listen to more than three hours of testimony from the applicant’s team.

As she has reiterated in the past, PZC Chairman Shirley Girioni said all interested parties will have a chance to speak. The meeting was continued to Sept. 17 and may possibly be extended to Oct. 1.

For the first night of the public hearing, however, it was the chance for the applicant and their attorney, architects, and engineers to explain their proposal.

Marjorie Shansky, attorney for the applicant, categorized the property, 181 Goose Lane, as an ideal spot for the 176,000 square foot house of worship due to the neighboring industrial and commercial area.

“The property is across the street from the largest industrial park in Guilford,” said Shansky. “I believe this is a perfect use for this parcel.”

Engineer Russell Waldo said that the proposed construction would be accomplished in two stages: the rabbi’s home at the rear of the property would be built first, followed by the synagogue. The public building would host many different activities including a day care center, adult education classes, summer camp, religious services, and celebrations.

PZC member Thomas Cost asked if the septic system would require state approval to which Waldo replied no, since its capacity (an average of 650 to 1,410 gallons per day) was anticipated at less than 2,000 gallons a day. Proposed systems that process more than 2,000 gallons a day need Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approval, added Waldo.

Michael Wilson, a traffic engineer with the firm Milone & McBroom, discussed traffic studies he had conducted at the Goose Lane area. He noted that over a three-year period (2003 to 2006) there were 24 accidents on Goose Lane, 11 of which involved one vehicle rear-ending another.

Ray Volpe, an independent traffic consultant hired by the town and paid for by the applicant, said that assuming Wilson’s site traffic analysis was correct, he saw no impact on the amount of traffic at the entrance ramp on I-95 south and no significant impact on the existing traffic.

“I analyzed [traffic studies] of two synagogues in the area and will say that Wilson’s numbers were conservatively on the high side,” added Volpe.

Volpe did emphasize that no vehicles should be allowed to drop off passengers street-side.

“It could be a dangerous situation if one or two vehicles were dropping off people on Goose Lane,” said Volpe.

Architect Sandra Vlock of Arbonies King Vlock of Branford said she and her partner, Glen Arbonies, designed the Chabad building to “be a good neighbor to the area.”

“The building is in three forms and nests into the topography of the site,” she said. “It is scaled to people and set back from Goose Lane, keeping with the character of the broad lawn.”

John Leary, a real estate valuation expert, concluded that the proposed facility “would not have any negative effect on adjacent property values.

“Religious facilities are usually considered an enhancement to a neighborhood,” said Leary, noting that the primary character of the Goose Lane neighborhood was no longer residential. “It fits right in.”

The Guilford Planning & Zoning Commission public hearing on the proposed Chabad on the Shoreline is continued to Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Greene Community Center on Church Street.

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