The problems with the Lubavitch

More on the Lubavitch in Guildford, Ct.
October 3, 2008, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: ,

Residents Speak Out Against Synagogue

Posted by Shore Publishing on Oct 02 2008, 12:01 PM
By Fay Abrahamsson, Courier Senior Staff Writer:

September ended as it began, with an attorney appearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) speaking in absolute terms about the suitability of a synagogue on Goose Lane. On Sept. 3, it was the applicant’s attorney promoting the proposal, on the 24th (after a Q&A session on the 17th) it was the opponents’ attorney’s turn.

The general public will get its chance to speak in November.

In sharp contrast to the opinion of Chabad-Lubavitch attorney Marjorie Shansky, Committee to Save Goose Lane attorney Edward Cassella stated that a synagogue nestled among private residences was far from ideal.

“We are opposed to this application because the development of the Chabad is not the perfect use for this site,” said Cassella. “We think the perfect use is what is there now–a residence.”

Shansky had earlier stated, “I believe this is a perfect use for this parcel,” at the Sept. 3 PZC public hearing on the application.

Shansky’s client, a branch of Hasidism that supports the Jewish continuity, is part of a global organization. There are more than 20 Chabad centers in Connecticut including those in Branford, Hamden, New Haven, and Milford.

They have submitted an application to the PZC to build a 17,000 square-foot house of worship on Goose Lane. The proposed project would have a 52-car parking lot, 4,000 square-foot play area for a daycare center, and a 7,000 square-foot residence for the rabbi to the rear of the main building. The residence is not part of the application to the PZC at this time.

Cassella, who represents a group of neighbors to the site, said they were not opposed to the Chabad coming to Guilford, just opposed to it being built at 181 Goose Lane. The reasons for this, added Cassella, are because the proposed building would lack harmony with the neighboring homes, negatively impact the value of the homes, increase noise and traffic to the area, and present a safety concern due to its apparent easy access for fire vehicles.

“In addition, it is too large for the site,” he said.

PZC Chairman Shirley Girioni noted that both the Guilford fire and police departments had reviewed the application and approved it.

Cassella told the PZC that it should deny the special use application because it would negatively affect the neighboring properties. He reiterated that the Chabad’s application for a special permit “is a privilege and not a right.”

“Residential uses are allowed as a right; religious services are not,” he said.

He emphasized the neighbors’ anxiety as to the size of the proposed building.

“This lot is not in a commercial or industrial zone–it is in a residential zone,” noted Cassella. “I won’t challenge the architectural design but I will challenge the scope.”

Karen Flatley, a neighbor at 21 Village Victoria Drive, expressed concern over the applicant’s modest projections for use of the facility.

“We know the intensity of use in the first few years will be less,” she said.

At past public hearings, Shansky said the sanctuary and social hall were designed for 100 people, but recently expressed that “more may attend.”

“We have no intention to exploit this site beyond 100 people,” Shansky said at an earlier public hearing.

Flatley disagreed, saying that at last year’s Rosh Hashanah services, Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison had 600 people in attendance.

“I’m looking 10 years ahead,” noted Flatley.

The Guilford Planning & Zoning Commission’s public hearing on the proposed Chabad on the Shoreline is continued to Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Greene Community Center on Church Street.


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