The problems with the Lubavitch

Gilford, Ct. another papers view of the Lubavitch
November 15, 2008, 6:05 pm
Filed under: Real Estate | Tags: ,

Chabad Hearings Heat Up

Posted by Shore Publishing on Nov 13 2008, 03:14 PM

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By Fay Abrahamsson, Courier Senior Staff Writer:

It was just a question of time before the religion issue was raised during the public hearings held on the Chabad-Lubavitch of the Shoreline’s application before the Planning & Zoning Commission to build a synagogue on Goose Lane.

In heated speeches, the subject of religion was raised by those speaking both in favor and against the application. Those speaking positively about the Chabad said others were afraid of change and of having a Hasidic Jewish synagogue come to their town.

“The neighbor’s opposition to the Chabad is highly exaggerated and of collective hysteria,” said Moshe Gai of Branford.

Suzanne Crelin of West Street remarked on the lack of houses of worship for Jews in Guilford.

“As I look around town, there are many churches in residential neighborhoods,” she said. “I am hoping that we can welcome change.”

On a similar note, Lili Foggle of Madison counted 26 churches in Branford, Guilford, and Madison.

“Surely there is room among all those churches for one synagogue,” she noted.

Those speaking against the application said their objection was to the size of the building and the chosen location, not the Chabad itself.

“We object to this building not because it’s a synagogue but because it’s a large building on a small site. If they wanted to build a Taco Bell I’d object to that, too. It has nothing to do with religion,” said Karen Flately of Village Victoria.

Susan Knoll of Cindy Lane echoed the previous speaker, saying it was not a religious issue but “a common sense issue.”

“I am not opposed to a Chabad building in Guilford,” she said, expressing that the current design is too big for the lot on Goose Lane. “Instead, why don’t they find a nice, large lot?”

Michael Birch of Old Lyme asked, “why this intelligent congregation was trying to shoehorn this building into this little lot?”

The “too small for the lot” opinions were raised despite the fact that Marjorie Shansky, attorney for the Chabad, announced at the start of last week’s public hearing that the size of the building had been reduced by 4,000 square feet. She explained that the architects have pulled the north wall 12 feet in from the neighbor’s yard, adding more lawn space and reducing the size of the storage and classrooms. The building will retain basically the same footprint.

Shansky noted that the building was reduced from 17,000 square feet to 12,700 square feet in order “to show good faith to the neighbors.” She noted that the parking, playground, septic, storm water management, and sanitary plans remain intact.

The occupancy of the social hall was reduced from a capacity of 100 people to 54; the capacity of the worship area remains at 100, said architect Luann Heft of Arbonies King Vlock of Branford.

The reduction in the building’s size did not make a difference for many residents, most of whom still saw a 12,700 square foot building as too big for the 1.3 acre lot.

Elizabeth Schwartz said to the applicant “there are more appropriate places in town where people will open their homes and hearts to you.”

Charles Magby of Stepstone Lane suggested a possible spot to build the Chabad.

“We’ve got an empty space sitting on Route 1–Fonicello’s,” he noted.

The Guilford Planning & Zoning Commission’s public hearing on the proposed Chabad on the Shoreline is continued to Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Greene Community Center on Church Street.


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