A Westport synagogue's attempt to legitimize its use of the former Three Bears Restaurant property became bogged down in a debate over whether the application was complete during a Thursday public hearing of the Planning and Zoning Commission in Town Hall.
Two members from the audience urged the commission to carefully review the Chabad Lubavitch application, which evolved out of a notice of violation issued by the town's Planning and Zoning Department in January because the synagogue had occupied the 79 Newtown Turnpike building without receiving approval from the commission.
The P&Z late Thursday decided to hold the hearing open so a grading and drainage report could be submitted. The application calls for interior alterations to the former restaurant; moving an existing driveway away from the intersection of Newtown Turnpike and Route 33; creating a second driveway, and eliminating several parking spaces in wetlands. The building would have a sanctuary that seats several dozen worshippers, five classrooms, a place of assembly and office space, and the existing kitchen and bathrooms would remain. The synagogue is required to have 63 parking spaces and plans to provide 75.
"We're not doing anything to the outside of the building. The outside of the building is going to look the same as it looks today. We may paint it, may do some cosmetic work," Larry Weisman, lawyer for Chabad Lubavitch of Westport, a Jewish outreach group, told the commission. "It looks to me like a fairly modest proposal, and I hope you'll see fit to approve it."
But Laurence Bradley, director of Westport's Planning and Zoning Department, said town engineers as of late Thursday afternoon hadn't received information related to grading, drainage and water quality. He said the town's Engineering and Planning and Zoning departments wanted that information included in the application presented to the commission. continue reading...