Public Comment Sought on Proposed Settlement: Greenwich Reform Synagogue vs Town

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Notice was posted on Monday (9/29) of a “special meeting” for public comment on a draft settlement between GRS and the Town, and its Zoning Board of Appeals.

The special meeting, which was posted on Monday, Sept. 29, will be in the Cone Room of Town Hall at 7:00pm on Oct 2 (following a 6:00pm closed executive session to discuss pending litigation regarding the Greenwich Reform Synagogue vs. the Town of Greenwich and ZBA.)

Greenwich Free Press read the notice of the special meeting on the Town website on Tuesday and asked for a copy of the DRAFT settlement from Town Attorney John Wetmore, which was provided at 3:45pm on Tuesday, Sept. 30:

DRAFT:

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

THIS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (the “Agreement” or “Settlement Agreement”), together with Exhibits 1 and 2 annexed hereto, is made and entered into as of this [ ] day of September, 2014 (the “Effective Date”) by and between the Greenwich Reform Synagogue. 1037 East Putnam Ave., Riverside CT 06878 (the “Synagogue”), the Town of Greenwich, Connecticut (“Greenwich”), and the Planning & Zoning Board of Appeals of Greenwich, Connecticut (the “ZBA”; collectively with Greenwich, the “Greenwich Parties”). Each of the parties to this Settlement Agreement is individually referred to as a “Party” and all are collectively referred to as the “Parties.”

RECITALS

WHEREAS, the Synagogue is the owner of real property located at 92 and 96 Orchard Street in Greenwich (the “Property”), which Property is located in an R-12 residential zoning district;

WHEREAS, on or about Aug 28, 2013, the Synagogue filed an application for preliminary site plan and special permit to construct improvements on and use the Property as a place of worship;

WHEREAS, following public hearings held between March 4, 2014, and June 3, 2014, the Planning & Zoning Commission for the Town of Greenwich (“P&Z”) preliminarily approved the Synagogue’s site plan application subject to, among other conditions, special exception approval by the ZBA;

WHEREAS, following public hearings, the Greenwich Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency issued the Synagogue a Permit, designated Permit #2014-05;

WHEREAS, at a public hearing of the ZBA held on June 11, 2014, a motion to approve the Synagogue’s special exception received two votes in favor, two votes against and one abstention, and thus the special exception application was deemed denied;

WHEREAS,the Synagogue made changes to its plan in an effort to respond to concerns expressed by the neighbors;

WHEREAS, on July 7, 2014, the Synagogue filed a complaint against the Greenwich Parties in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, Case No. 3:14-cv-00975 (JCH), asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C 2000cc et seq., and Connecticut’s Religious Freedom Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-571b, and appealing the ZBA’s decision pursuant to Connecticut General Statues 8-8 (the “Litigation”);

WHEREAS, the ZBA denies the grounds for the appeal of its June 11, 2014 decision and the Greenwich Parties deny all claims for liability and violation of federal, state or local law or other wrongdoing asserted in the Litigation,

WHEREAS, the Parties have determined that it is in their respective best interests to permanently resolve the Litigation, pursuant to the terms of this Settlement agreement, and to avoid the expense, inconvenience, and delay of potentially protracted legal proceedings;

WHEREAS, at a duly noticed public meeting of the ZBA held on [    ], 2014, the ZBA voted to approve this settlement Agreement for the reasons on the record at the meeting and authorized the settlement and the Litigation pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement;

WHEREAS, at a duly noticed public meeting held on _____, 2014, Greenwich, through its Board of Selectmen, voted to approve this Settlement Agreement for the reasons stated on the record at the meeting and authorized the settlement of the Litigation pursuant to the terms of this Settlement Agreement;

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants contained herein and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and adequacy of which are hereby acknowledged, the Parties hereto, hereby agree as follows:

1. Settlement Terms and Conditions.

a. Size and Dimensions of the Synagogue’s Place of Worship. Within ten (10) business days after the entry of an order in the Litigation in the form attached hereto as Exhibit 1 (“Order”), and subject to the terms set forth below, the ZBA shall issue a special exception approval authorizing the Synagogue to use the Property as a house of worship and to construct a place of worship on the Property. The place of worship authorized by the special exception shall conform to the architectural plans and site plans that the ZBA reviewed at its June 11 hearing, with the following modifications, which modifications are reflected in the revised architectural plans and site plans attached hereto as Exhibit 2:

i. Increase the number of parking spaces from 46 including 2 handicap spaces to 52 parking spaces including 2 handicap spaces;

ii. Shift the driveway from the southern portion of the property to the northern portion of the property; and

iii. Reduce the volume of the proposed building by approximately 2,100 cubic feet from the architectural plans dated April 22, 2014, previously submitted to the ZBA.

b. Further Applications, Permits and Approvals. In accordance with the applicable law, the Synagogue will submit and Greenwich Parties and any of their departments will process in the ordinary course and in conformity with applicable law all applications for permits and other approvals necessary for the Synagogue to legally develop, build and operate a place of worship on the Property. The Synagogue acknowledges that no part of this Settlement Agreement provides for, guarantees or assures the issuance of any additional permits or approvals necessary for the Synagogue’s development of the Property and that applications for such permits or approvals may be denied if required by applicable law. If lawfully requested by the Synagogue and when permitted under applicable law, the Greenwich Parties will use reasonable efforts to expedite the processing of the Synagogue’s applications for additional necessary permits or approvals.

c. Terms and Conditions of Use for the Place of Worship and the Property. In operating the place of worship, the Synagogue shall abide by the following terms and conditions:

i. No concurrent worship use of the Sanctuary and Social Hall.

ii. The capacity in the Social Hall will be limited to 138 people.

iii. Pre- and post-blasting inspections shall include monitoring of radon levels.

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 arrival and dismissal times.

v. The Synagogue will employ a police officer during the high holy days.

vi. During high holy days, a shuttle bus will be provided to paring lots at the Greenwich Baptist Church and Central Middle School. Member of the Congregation, other than those who are elderly, will be directed to those parking lots.

ii. The Synagogue will support the neighbors’ request if made to the Board of Selectmen to install no parking signs on resident parking restriction on Orchard Street.

viii. The Synagogue’s parking lot will have four light zones and all parking lights shall be turned off at 10:00pm.

ix. Curtains on the North and South windows shall close automatically when interior lights are turned on.

x. There will be no daycare facilities, nursery schools, preschools or outdoor camps on the property unless approvals for such uses are obtained.

xi. There will be no halfway houses or homeless shelters on the property.

xii. There will be no permanent exterior loudspeakers on the property.

xiii. In the event a dumpster is used on the property, it will be picked up after 7:00am.

xiv. No outdoor carnivals such as the annual events held at St.Roch’s St. Paul’s and St. Catherine’s.

xv. Leasing of the Synagogue facilities shall be limited to 501(c)(3) organizations or other established community groups.

xvi. The Fire Marshall confirm compliance with occupancy law.

xvii. A Parking Management Plan shall be prepared and implemented during the high holy days and when it is anticipated that the site will be parked greater than 85 percent capacity such as during weddings, funerals and bar/bat mitzvahs. The plan shall include the employment of a police officer and the use of a shuttle bus to parking lots at the Greenwich Baptist Church and Central Middle School. A written parking agreement shall be maintained with the Greenwich Baptist church and approval shall be sought for the use of the Central Middle School parking lot on July 1st of each year.

d. Joint Public Statement. Following an approval and entry of the attached Order by the Court in the Litigation, the Synagogue and Greenwich shall issue statements to the media expressing gratitude for the good faith efforts of each Party to reach a resolution and confirming the goal of being mutual good neighbors.

2. Dismissal of the Litigation. As promptly as possible and in no event later than within five (5) business days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, the Parties shall jointly move the Court for entry of the Order attached hereto as Exhibit 1 and for the scheduling of a hearing on said motion. The Parties shall jointly request that the Court schedule a hearing on said motion as soon as practicable and further commit to using their best efforts to ensure that such a hearing is held in as timely a manner as possible. The Parties shall also jointly request that the Court stay all deadlines in the litigation pending a resolution on the motion for approval of and entry of the Order. As provided for in the Order, subject to the approval of the Court, the Synagogue’s appeal under Conn. Gen Stat 8-8 shall be dismissed pursuant to the terms of this Settlement Agreement and the Order and all the Synagogue’s remaining claims in the Litigation shall be dismissed with prejudice.. Each Party to the litigation shall bear its own costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred in the Litigation and the Synagogue shall not be entitled to recovery of any attorney’s fees or other costs and expenses incurred in the Litigation.

In the event that the Court denies the motion for entry of the Order, the Parties commit to using their best efforts to cooperate in addressing whatever reasons the Court provides for denying the motion. If the reasons the Court provide for denying the motion cannot be addressed, this Settlement Agreement shall become null and void and the Parties shall have no further obligations hereunder.

3. Release. In consideration of the mutual promises and covenants contained herein, the Synagogue for itself and for its principals, officers, directors, members, congregants, representatives, agents, affiliates, successors (including but not limited to subsequent owners of the Property) and assigns (collectively, “Synagogue Parties”) does hereby voluntarily and knowingly, fully and finally waive, remise, release, forever discharge and covenant not to sue or to file or maintain a claim against Greenwich, the ZBA and each of their respective agencies, commissions, officials, departments, subdivisions, successors, assigns, agents, consultants, servants, employees, insurers, attorneys and representatives, individually or in their official capacity, with respect to any actual or alleged claims, causes of action, liabilities, demands, actions, suits, damages (including but not limited to, consequential damages or damages for diminution in property value), losses obligations, responsibilities, costs and expenses (collectively, “Liabilities”), which Liabilities are of any nature or kind whatsoever and whether based in common law, statute or equity, or arising under contract or otherwise, known or unknown, absolute or contingent, accrued or unaccrued, liquidated or unliquidated, which a Synagogue Party had, has or at any time may have, relating directly or indirectly to, arising out of, or incurred in connection with: (a) the Synagogue’s proposal and application for special exception and other approvals to construct a place of worship on the Property; and/or (b) any claim which the Synagogue made or could have made in the Litigation.

4. Representations and Warranties. Each Party represents and warrants that it has full power and authority to execute and delive rthis Settlement Agreement and to perform its obligations hereunder and has taken all necessary action to authorize such execution, delivery, and performance. The representations, warranties, promises, covenents, and agreements contained in this Agreement shall survive the execution of this Agreement.

5. Further Acts. Each Party agrees to perform all further acts, and to execute and deliver all documents that may be reasonably necessary to carry out the intents and purposes of this Settlement Agreement.

6. Continuing Jurisdiction of the Court. Consistent with the terms of the Order, the Parties irrevocably and unconditionally consent to the Court’s exclusive and continuing jurisdiction to adjudicate any claims, or disputes arising out of or in connection wit the performance of this Settlement Agreement. The Order entered by the court and the Court’s continuing jurisdiction shall terminate [###] days from the date of entry of the Order or, if earlier, 30 days after the date of the issuance of a building permit to the Synagogue for a place of worship at the Property.

In the event that a Party contends that another Party has not complied or is not complying with the terms of this Settlement Agreement during the period of the Court’s continuing jurisdiction, counsel of record for the Party shall notify counsel of record for the alleged non-complying Party of the claim of non-compliance and the grounds for the claim.

Upon service of such notice, the Parties shall be obliged to confer in good faith, for a period of at least 30 days, to resolve the alleged non-compliance, or limit the areas of dispute, prior to seeking Court intervention.

7. Entire Agreement. This Settlement Agreement (which includes the appended Exhibits) contains the entire agreement between the Parties and constitutes the complete, final and exclusive embodiment of their agreement with respect to the subject matter hereof, whether written or oral, which are hereby rescinded. This Settlement Agreement is executed without reliane of any Party other than those expressly provided or contained herein and in Exhibits 1 and 2 attached hereto, and each Party expressly disclaims any such reliance or the existence of any other such warranty or representation.

8. No Oral Amendments. Neither this Settlement Agreement, nor any of the Exhibits hereto, may be changed orally. No modification, amendment, or waiver of any of the provisions contained in this Settlement Agreement (which includes the Exhibits thereto), nor any future representation, promise, or condition in connection with the subject matter of this Settlement Agreement shall be binding upon any Party unless made in writing and signed by each Party, provided hat court approval for such modifications shall not be required. This Settlement Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of each of the Parties and their respective heirs, legal representatives, executors, successors, permitted transferees, and assigns.

9. No Waiver. Any waiver by any Party of any provision of this Agreement or any right hereunder shall not be deemed a continuing waiver, and shall not prevent or estop such Party (or any other Party), from thereafter enforcing such provision or right or any other provision or right.The failure of any Party to insist any one or more instances upon the strict performance of any of the terms or provisions of this Agreement by any other Party shall not be construed as a waiver or relinquishment for the future of any such term or provision or any other provision or right, but that term or provision shall continue in full force and effect.

10. Jointly Drafted. The Settlement Agreement has been jointly drafted by the Parties after negotiations and consultations with their respective counsel.Each Party hereby acknowledges that its counsel had the opportunity to review this Settlement Agreement before the Party signed the Settlement Agreement. No party shall attempt to invoke or be entitled to the benefits of the rule of construction to the effect that ambiguities are to be resolved against the drafting Party in any interpretation of this Settlement Agreement. Nor shall this Settlement Agreement, for any reason,be construed more strictly against one Party than the other.

11. No Admission of Liability. This Settlement Agreement shall in no way be construed as an admission of liability, wrongdoing or fault by any Party hereto.

12. Counterparts. This Settlement Agreement may be executed in two or more counterparts, each of which shall be deemed an original, but all of which together constitute one and the same instrument. No Party shall be bound hereby unless and until this Settlement Agreement has been executed and delivered by all other Parties. Facsimile or PDF signatures shall be deemed original signatures for all purposes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, this Settlement Agreement has been duly executed by the Parties as of the Effective Date.


Related Stories:

Nail-biter Turns Cliffhanger: ZBA Fails to Muster 4 Votes Needed for Greenwich Reform Synagogue

Greenwich Reform Synagogue: “Laws & regulations should govern this land-use issue and guide the discussion, not rhetoric.”

P&Z Moves Synagogue Proposal from Preliminary to Final Site Plan. Cos Cob Neighbors Unhappy.

Greenwich Parking Director Hopes to Contain Spread of Residential Parking Zones

Getting a Parking Ticket in Front of Your Own House in Greenwich

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  • John

    Looks like Greenwich caved in and threw the citizens under the bus.

    Norwalk fought for their citizens and got the mosque to sell their property and look somewhere else to build the mosque.

  • So SAD
    With Village District designation none of these people would have had to suffer through this expensive, sad time for all.
    We need a Town Plan voted on during Election 2015 to reverse the 50 years of Robert Moses style “Regional Planning” that went into effect 50 years ago. Failure of Urban Planning, slightly addressed in Cos Cob Plan plopped out by incompetents just this year!
    All Houses of Devotion should be honored be they religious or familial.
    Once again lawyers win and everyone else loses….

  • Carol Swift

    I am aghast that our Town Government would attempt to shove through this settlement with less than 48 hours notice to the public. This is an issue for ALL Greenwich residents – not just those who live in Cos Cob. I like to think that our Town government would follow the good example set recently in Norwalk by providing adequate public notice and ample time for the opposition to get engineers, traffic, and parking experts to examine the new plans and provide inciteful public commentary, instead of working in secrecy behind closed doors.

    There are NEW building plans, NEW proposed uses, and a removal of previously agreed to occupancy limits that need to be examined. This is a travesty. I hope everyone shows up at town Hall at both 10 a.m. (Board of Selectmen) and 7 p.m. (zoning Board of Appeals) to let them know that we live in a democratic nation that values public opinion, not in a dictatorship that works in secrecy behind closed doors.

  • Carol Swift

    Correction: I meant to type insightful, as in full of insight, not inciteful, which is not a real word – Carol