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Greenwich Synagogue Project Halt Reversed, But Neighbors Continue to Seethe

Greenwich Reform Synagogue

The Greenwich Reform Synagogue (GRS) in Greenwich, CT, this summer sued the town in federal court for violating its members’ civil rights when the local Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted to halt the construction of the synagogue’s new building.

The new location is in the Cos Cob neighborhood of Greenwich. The art history buffs among you will recall the Cos Cob Art Colony of the turn of the 20th century, with many important American Impressionists, such as Childe Hassam , J. Alden Weir, Theodore Robinson, Henry Fitch Taylor, and Robert Reid. But it’s OK if you don’t.

What does matter in this story is the fact that on Oct. 3, the ZBA and the town voted to accept a settlement that would overturn the ruling in return for a number of project alterations, the Greenwich Time reported.

Except that, apparently, the neighbors of the proposed location for the new building remain very much opposed to the new synagogue.

“We still have concerns about the size of the building and lack of on-site parking, neither of which are addressed by this, ” attorney Mario Coppola, who represents a group of neighbors, told the GT.

Coppola’s clients, a.k.a. Cos Cob Families for Residential Rights, are now suing the town allowing the synagogue project to proceed in the first place, back in 2013. They actually launched two lawsuits, one for each vote the town’s elders took in favor of the new construction, and, their attorney insists, the ZBA settlement has only strengthened their resolve.

They talk like that up in Greenwich, CT.

The neighbors may or may not challenge the settlement in court, probably based on how much attorney Coppola will charge them for the pleasure. They’ve been upset over the way the town pushed the settlement through—really, really fast.

“This is a case where the town certainly knows a lot of people in the neighborhood are concerned about the development, ” Coppola told GT. “They knew that there would have been a lot of people interested and should have respected them by giving them further notice.”

The synagogue is very happy with the settlement.

“The settlement approved by the Board of Selectmen and the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals reflects the significant changes we have made and the conditions we have added to specifically address the concerns raised by our neighbors and the town boards, ” synagogue Co-President Wendy Schreiber said in a statement. “Throughout the approval process we have met with our neighbors and have worked with their representatives.”

The synagogue is prepared to appear once more before the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 21 for final approval. It will not be a quiet night. The neighbors plan to show up in force.

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