Saturday, September 6, 2008

GUILFORD, CT - Opponents face off over synagogue

GUILFORD — Partisans have blanketed the neighborhood with letters. Local newspapers have been filled with residents’ opinions. And more than 150 people crowded a Planning and Zoning meeting this week.

The long-simmering debate over building a synagogue on Goose Lane has reignited, more than two years after the initial proposal.

Chabad of the Shoreline, a Hasidic Jewish organization based in Branford, is applying to build a 17,000-square-foot religious center and day care at 181 Goose Lane. Some neighbors say the building is too large for the lot and would increase traffic dangers in the area.

The town requires a special permit to build a religious facility in any zone, and the Planning and Zoning Commission held an initial public hearing on the application this week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

from the chabad website
1) Fact about Goose Lane: This section of Goose Lane is commercial. Drive down Goose Lane and look around the site. Across the street is the largest industrial zone in Guilford. You can see a 63,045 sqf warehouse made of concrete blocks and a 3,286 sqf office building made of similar materials. Behind them stands a 70,080 sqf manufacturing plant with an adjacent 58,260 sqf office building. To the south? A 81,419 sqf hospital, a 5,296 sqf inn currently used as medical offices, a 4,043 sqf medical office, and an office complex with two office buildings of 7,118 and 6,256 sqf. The next property does have two houses on it at this time, but they are zoned commercial! These properties can change to commercial use at any time. To the immediate north? A building belonging to a physician who is the the lead critic of Chabad’s plans. The doctor uses this structure as both her home and office, running a thriving medical practice which, according to her website, has three employees. So is this a meandering country road?

If anything the proposed Chabad is an ideal transition use for our property creating a buffer between the commercial area and the residential neighborhood to the north.

2) Fact about houses of worship in Guilford: Almost every church in Guilford stands in a residential zone. Most are situated on parcels of land with more lot coverage and less parking than the proposed Chabad center. So why all the fuss about Chabad?

3) Fact about special permits: Every house of worship in Guilford needs a special permit, whether they are in a residential or commercial zone. It does not matter if a proposed house of worship will be 200 sqf or 200,000—it needs a special permit. If Chabad had proposed a building on a commercial property, people could complain about lost tax dollars. There will always be someone who wants to complain.

4) Fact about the height of the Chabad center: It will be built into an existing hill. The proposed building complies with Guilford zoning regulations and will not “tower” over other properties. Because it will be built into a hill, the “2nd floor” will be on ground level. People will enter it from the parking lot. The doctor lives at the bottom of the hill, so the existing ranch house also “towers” above her.

5) Fact about traffic at Chabad activities: Most activities take place on weekends and evenings. Most programs will occur after the work day and thus minimally affect traffic. This is a house of worship, not a mall. Cars do not come and go all day and night.

6) Fact about the Chabad property size: The property is two lots with a total of 5.29 acres. Parcel A is 1.28 acres and Parcel B is 4.01 acres with a 2.63 conservation easement. The building will sit on the front parcel with parking extending into the second parcel.