Greenwich Reform Synagogue Responds to Renewed Safety Concerns Following Toppling of Chain Link Fence

orchard orchard 2On Friday morning children walking to Central Middle School found something of an obstacle in front of 92 Orchard Street where Greenwich Reform Synagogue is building its house of worship.

The old house on the property was recently demolished and the lot has been cleared. The site is enclosed inside chain link fence.

On Thursday night, the construction fencing had somehow fallen across the sidewalk and children were forced to walk around it and into the busy street.

The incident is significant because throughout the synagogue’s application process, Cos Cob residents voiced concerns about safety of children in the heavy pedestrian neighborhood.

GRS cited the RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000) in a federal lawsuit and initiated legal action after the Zoning Board of Appeals denied their application.

RLUIPA protects religious assemblies and institutions from zoning and historic landmark laws that substantially interfere with the assemblies’ and institutions’ religious exercise.

In the end, after much wrangling, the synagogue reached a settlement with the town and in December, after the P&Z gave its green light.

In an email on Sunday morning Sandy Soule, Co-Chair of the GRS Building Committee said, “The GRS construction team was concerned that the construction fencing was damaged by unknown persons/causes and blocked the sidewalk.”

“The fencing has been reinforced to ensure that it’s not likely to happen again. GRS has taken additional steps to ensure that a flagman will always be present during deliveries, including the 45-minute period before/after school, and apologizes for any confusion during the first days of construction.”

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92 Orchard St

On Oct.22 the old house at 92 Orchard was soon to be demolished. Credit: Leslie Yager

Soule said that the construction manager has dispatched the fencing vendor back to the site and will be anchoring the fence posts into ground instead of the weighted ballasts that were originally used.

“We have spoken firmly to our construction managers and reiterated that every item in the P&Z approval document needs to be complied with completely, including the presence of a flagman whenever deliveries are being made,” Soule said.

The Planning & Zoning approval letter (PZC Approval Letter 120914) states, “Flagman shall be present at the construction entrance to insure sidewalk safety during deliveries of material.”

Lot cleared at 92 Orchard Street in Cos Cob, Nov. 15, 2015 Credit: Leslie Yager

Lot cleared at 92 Orchard Street in Cos Cob, Nov. 15, 2015 Credit: Leslie Yager

Greenwich Reform Synagogue Phasing Plan
Soule also shared the detailed construction phasing plan provided by Carmelo Cicero of Colliers International. The phasing plan specifies:

  • Flagman required for traffic control during construction delivery periods phase 1-5.
  • Crossing Guard to be provided for before & after school pedestrian traffic (45 minutes prior to and after local school sessions) during heavy construction periods, phase 1-6.

     

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See also:

Greenwich Reform Synagogue Congregants Celebrate Sukkot on Orchard St

Greenwich Reform Synagogue vs Cos Cob Neighbors: It’s All Over But the Shouting


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Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor Leslie.Yager@GreenwichFreePress.com
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  • Sarah Darer Littman

    “The fencing has been reinforced to ensure that it’s not likely to happen again”

    This was written Sunday morning? Because we walked the dogs past that fence on the way back from the Pomerance on Sunday afternoon and it was waving precariously in the wind. It didn’t look very secured at all. In fact we commented to each other that we were surprised that it hadn’t been made more secure given the neighborhood concern and the numerous complaints to town hall.

    • greenwichfreepress

      Yes this was written on Sunday morning. – Leslie GFP/Editor

    • AG

      Of course it is blamed on vandals, but the fence was and will continue to be poorly secured…

  • Carol Swift

    I was present (and spoke) at the meeting where the requirement for a crossing guard 45 minutes before and after school arrival and dismissal times was placed as a condition on the building applicant. There was no mention of limiting the requirement to times of heavy construction. Many residents are completely horrified by this shoddy construction fence placement – what if the fence fell while kids are walking to school? I intend to follow up with Town Hall, and I urge other residents to do the same.

  • John Timm

    In the settlement of the Greenwich Reform Synagogue RLUIPA lawsuit against the Town of Greenwich it states in Section C. Terms and Conditions of Use for the Place of Worship and the Property.

    Subsection iv. During construction of the place of worship, a flagman will be present at the construction entrance to insure sidewalk safety during deliveries of materials and during school 45 minutes before and after arrival and dismissal times.

    This mean that Greenwich Reform Synagogue has been in violation of the lawsuit settlement by not having a flagman at the construction site from 7:00AM to 8:30 AM and from 1:50PM to 3:20PM.

    More to come in a letter to the editor.

    John Timm
    78 Orchard St.
    Cos Cob, CT 06807