After moving between several temporary locations in Westport in recent years, the Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch of Westport appears to have found a home that is just right.
The site of the former Three Bears restaurant, 79 Newtown Turnpike, was unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission last Thursday for Chabad's new religious center.
Among several reasons it listed for its approval of Chabad's site plan application and special permit, the P&Z wrote in a resolution that Chabad's establishment would "not have a significant adverse affect on safety in the streets nor unreasonably increase traffic congestion in the area, nor interfere with the pattern of highway circulation."
Chabad's move to 79 Newtown Turnpike has not been a smooth one. The group relocated there at the beginning of this year, but its move prompted the town to issue a notice of violation because Chabad did not gain approval from town officials before occupying the building. Chabad subsequently obtained an abeyance from the town, which has allowed it to stay at 79 Newtown Turnpike, while its application to the P&Z was under review.
Since its relocation, Chabad has opened a religious school there, which offers classes to students ages 8 to 14.
Chabad's headquarters at Newtown Turnpike will include an approximately 1,300-square-foot sanctuary with 87 non-fixed seats, five classrooms and office space.
Chabad will also restripe the parking lot to create 64 parking spaces and landscape the site by planting several trees next to Wilton Road.
The building's footprint of approximately 9,100 square feet will not change. The P&Z's approval of Chabad's site plan appears to culminate the group's search in recent years for a new home.
Before moving to Newtown Turnpike, the group was based on Ketchum Street in the town's Saugatuck section.
Chabad left its Saugatuck home ahead of that space's subsequent conversion into an office complex. Before the group's stint in Saugatuck, Chabad gatherings had been held at the Kings Highway North home of its rabbi, Yehudah Kantor, among other Westport venues. continue...