Cos Cob Synagogue Proposal Clears First Hurdle

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The Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission listens to residents with concerns about a proposed synagogue on Orchard Street.
The Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission listens to residents with concerns about a proposed synagogue on Orchard Street. Photo Credit: Eric Gendron
Thomas Heagney, a lawyer representing Greenwich Reform Synagogue, addresses the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Thomas Heagney, a lawyer representing Greenwich Reform Synagogue, addresses the Planning and Zoning Commission. Photo Credit: Eric Gendron

GREENWICH, Conn. – After more than two months of delays, the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to allow Greenwich Reform Synagogue to proceed with the next step in its proposed synagogue in Cos Cob.

The commission ruled that Greenwich Reform Synagogue's proposal was indeed a lot line revision and not, as opponents argued, a subdivision or re-subdivision.

The decision was met with silence from the crowd of roughly 100 in the Greenwich Town Hall Meeting Room.

Mario F. Coppola, a lawyer who represents residents in the neighborhood around the Orchard Street site, vowed to challenge the ruling in court.

"It's disappointing. They made the easy decision, but they didn't make the right decision," Coppola said. "I believe my clients will continue to oppose this application and file an appeal to the court."

Greenwich Reform Synagogue hopes to build a 20,000-square-foot facility at 96 Orchard Street and needed approval from the commission to revise the shape of lot lines to purchase the land and fit the proposed building.

Planning and Zoning Chairperson Donald Heller reminded the crowd that despite the commission's ruling, it was merely one step in a multi-step process of approval.

Heller said multiple times that the commission was voting solely on the lot line revision and not any other proposals because none have been submitted to the commission yet. He went on to say the public would have multiple chances in the future to continue to voice their concerns about the project.

Thomas Heagney, who represents the synagogue, was pleased with the commission's ruling.

"They have done dozens of applications like this," he said. "I was hoping and they have gone ahead and followed the same process they have in the past."

Opponents of the synagogue say it would cause traffic problems in a mainly residential neighborhood and that its parking lots would affect nearby wetlands.

Heagney said that despite talks of lawsuits, the synagogue will move on to the next step, which includes hiring an architect. He also said he anticipates the final design will ultimately be smaller than the proposed 20,000 square feet.

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