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Greenwich Planning & Zoning Delays Synagogue Vote Again

Thomas Heagney, attorney for Greenwich Reform Synagogue, left, and Mario Coppola, right, attorney for Cos Cob Resident Fighting For Residential Rights, listen to the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission during Tuesday's meeting. Photo Credit: Eric Gendron
The Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission listens to arguments made by attorneys for and against the proposed synagogue on Orchard Street during Tuesday's meeting. Photo Credit: Eric Gendron
A crowd of Cos Cob residents and Greenwich officials listen to the Planning and Zoning Commission's deliberations during Tuesday's meeting. Photo Credit: Eric Gendron

GREENWICH, Conn. – The Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission delayed a vote on the first step toward approving construction of a synagogue on Orchard Street in Cos Cob at a Tuesday meeting – again.

The vote on a lot line change will now take place Jan. 29, which is the latest extension that could be granted. The commission requested briefs from the lawyers representing Greenwich Reform Synagogue and an organization calling itself Cos Cob Residents Fighting For Residential Rights to gather more information on the proposal.

The commission had also delayed the vote, with the synagogue's permission, back on Nov. 27 .

“The commission wants some law on the issue, and I’m happy to provide the brief,” said Thomas Heagney, a lawyer for the synagogue. “All applications take time to work out, and this is no different.”

Greenwich Reform Synagogue needs the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission to change the lot lines on the property at 96 Orchard St. it hopes to purchase from Lou Caravella. However, the usually procedural matter has been met with stiff resistance from residents.

Mario Coppola, who represents the residents opposed to the construction, once again said the proposal is not a lot-line revision but a subdivision. If it is ruled as such, the synagogue would have a harder time gaining approval.

The crowd of about 80 anxious residents understood the board’s decision to extend the vote, given the details of property law being invoked.

“I hope you folks understood what was going on here,” Commission Chairman Donald Heller said, which elicited chuckles from the crowd.

The synagogue wants to build a 20,000-square-foot facility on land it is hoping to buy from Caravella and his son, Randy, who lives at the adjacent 22 Osee Place.

Opponents say the synagogue would increase traffic and say its parking lots would impact nearby wetlands. Residents have also said the synagogue has not been forthcoming with its plans.

Even if the board were to approve the lot-line change,  the synagogue would still have several legal steps to go through before construction could begin.

“We’ll provide what the commission has asked for,” Heagney said. “And hopefully we’ll have a decision on the 29th.”

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