Letter to the Editor: Are Greenwich Reform Synagogue Delays Self-Made?

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At the Selectman’s meeting on Oct. 2, 2014 after the Selectman approved the settlement of the Greenwich Reform Synagogue (GRS) Federal RLUIP lawsuit a co-president of GRS commented ….” respectfully ask that we make no changes to the meeting tonight.” (This was in reference to the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting to be held that night.) …..”more of an imposition for us to once again delayed and delayed and delayed”….”we respectfully ask that nothing else delay for us”…..

Lets look at …. “once again delayed and delayed and delayed….” When GRS started the process with a lot ine revision and the approvals of all the required agencies necessary for the building of their synagogue how long did they think it would take. What counsel did they receive from their representatives on how long the process would take.

Below is listed the process and time GRS has gone through so far.

GRS submitted an application to Planning and Zoning (P&Z) for a lot line revision on 10-3-12 after three public hearings the application was approved on 2-12-13.

GRS waited two months before purchasing a portion of 96 Orchard St. for $192,000 on 4-12-13.

GRS submitted an application with the Inland Wetland & Watercourses Agency (IWWA) on 8-28-13 after four public hearings the application was approved 3-3-14.

GRS submitted an application to the P&Z on 8-29-13 for a final site plan and special exception. On 12-13-13 GRS withdrew the application because the application was expiring. The IWWA has to first approve their application (3-3-14) before the P&Z can open their application.

GRS submitted a new P&Z application for a final site plan and special exception on 12-13-13 the first public hearing was on 3-4-14. Before P&Z can approve their application the GRS applications with the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Architectural Review Committee have to be approved.

GRS submitted an application with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on 8-29-13. The GRS application was on the ZBA agenda for the 3-5-14 public hearing. On 3-5-14 GRS requested that their application be continued. The applicant determines when they want their application opened at a ZBA meeting and there is no expiration date for a ZBA application as there is with a P&Z application. GRS delayed the opening of their application to 7-11-14. At the 7-11-14 ZBA meeting the GRS application for special exception was denied. GRS subsequently received ZBA approval for special exception at a special meeting on 10-2-14 to settle a GRS RLUIPA Federal lawsuit against the Town of Greenwich and the ZBA.

GRS submitted an application with the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) on 8-29-13. Again it is up to the applicant to say when their application is opened at a ARC meeting and there is no expiration date for a ARC application. The GRS application was opened at an ARC meeting on 5-7-14. The ARC members commented that GRS did not submit the required documents 3 weeks prior to a meeting.

Because of the lack of documents and information supplied by GRS at the meeting the application was continued to the following ARC meeting on 6-4-14. GRS again did not submit the required documents prior to the 6-4-14 meeting because of this GRS was removed from the 6-4-14 agenda by the ARC. GRS did not want to wait till the next scheduled ARC meeting on 7-28-14. GRS requested that the ARC hold a special meeting for them. The special meeting was held on 7-10-14. Again GRS did not submit the required documents or answer the comments the ARC members made at the previous ARC meeting. GRS has to return to a future ARC meeting to further answer questions and submit documents. The date of the next meeting has not been determined. At issue with the lack of submitting the required documents prior to a meeting is that it deprives the public it’s right of reviewing the documents prior to a ARC meeting so the public can comment on the documents.

So what do you make of this? To others who have read this say that Greenwich Reform Synagogue took their time and did not expedite the process and caused their own delays by postponing meetings or not being prepared to properly present their application at a meeting.

It is not over. GRS Still has to appear before the P&Z on their application for a final site plan and special permit and before the ARC to continue the completion of their application.

John Timm
Cos Cob

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