The problems with the Lubavitch


Boca Raton Lubavitch Chabad fights the Community for more parking
October 3, 2008, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: ,

Boca Raton parking rules complicate things for synagogue

Nearby residents persuade city to require more parking spaces

Boca Raton – For nine years, Chabad of East Boca has met in rented space. On the brink of building its own permanent synagogue, the chabad was stuck on the question of parking.

The City Council on Tuesday approved rules that could more than double the number of spaces required at the chabad, which is planned as a two-story synagogue in the Golden Triangle neighborhood by Mizner Park. Residents there have been fierce in their opposition to any change that would bring more vehicles onto their streets and swales. They say they already are overwhelmed with overflow parking from Mizner Park.

About 75 residents showed up at City Hall on Tuesday night to persuade council members to keep parking requirements strict.

“We’re happy with keeping parking as it should be,” resident Anthony Majhess said before the meeting. “We felt in the beginning the city was going to try to make it less restrictive.”

City officials set out to make uniform rules for all places of assembly. Parking was a significant part of the effort, which began more than a year ago. In June, the chabad applied for a 23,000-square-foot building on six lots.

“This is not an issue of support or nonsupport of faith tonight,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Baronoff. “I would be very embarrassed as a council member if that’s what it came down to tonight.”

Golden Triangle residents wanted the city to keep parking at one space per three seats in gathering places and one space per 25 square feet of space for overflow parking. It would require more than 100 spaces at the proposed synagogue, in stark contrast to the 42 spaces the chabad proposes, said Rabi Ruvi New.

The synagogue had planned to seek off-site parking agreements on occasions when parking is heaviest, such as the High Holy Days.

“This particular ordinance has been revised and revised. … Certainly, there has been a lot of pressure for the neighborhood,” New said.

Charles Siemon, a planning consultant who developed Mizner Park, told council members he was disappointed with the “one-size-fits-all solution.”

Residents held up signs during the meeting, including “1 PER 25” and “90% ON SITE,” when a few speakers asked for more leniency. Residents expressed concern the ordinance would allow for “technical deviations” that would make its requirements moot.

“Why bother?” asked resident David Warburton. “On-site parking must be sufficient [but] there is one glaring loophole.”

City Manager Leif Ahnell said city officials would re-evaluate technical deviations, which would allow developers to ask for more parking for extraordinary circumstances.

Patty Pensa can be reached at ppensa@SunSentinel.com or 561-243-6609.

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