What’s the real reason the synagogue size has been reduced?

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

Why did Greenwich Reform Synagogue downsize its proposed building from 20,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet?

Much has been stated that the Greenwich Reform Synagogue (GRS) reduced the size of their proposed synagogue at 92 Orchard Street in response to the concerns of the neighbors. But is that correct?

GRS purchased 92 Orchard Street on Oct. 2, 2012. Seven days later, GRS released a request for proposal (RFP) that states they have a membership of 150 families and are planning on a 20,000-square-foot building, parking for 100 cars, a sanctuary of 2,500 square feet and a social hall of similar size that can be combined with the sanctuary.

But if one were to look at the property GRS has and try to apply the requirements of the RFP it looks like it doesn’t fit, which appears to be the reason the size of the synagogue was reduced as well as the number of parking spaces.

Greenwich Municipal Code 6-206 requires that property in a R-12 zone must have as a minimum green area of 55%. The application states they have a green area of 43,539 square feet, which is 56.4% of the property. When you subtract the green area from the lot size you are left with approximately an area of only 33,602 square feet for development.

The GRS plans submitted to the Planning and Zoning office for the 12,262-square-foot building and 47 parking spaces lists the square foot area required for the 47 parking spaces, driveways and walks of approximately 25,000 square feet, leaving only approximately 8,600 square feet for the building. If they wanted parking for 100 cars they would need approximately 50,000 square feet just for parking, or if they wanted a 20,000-square-foot building with a 10,000-square-foot footprint with two stories they would only have approximately 23,602 square feet for parking.

Does it look like the building was reduced from 20,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet in response to neighbors concerns or did they lack enough property to accommodate the requirements of the RFP? Is that why Greenwich Reform Synagogue made an unsolicited offer to purchase Tony and Barbara Lovallo’s property at 90 Orchard Street? You can read the GRS offer and a letter from Frank Farricker at Ccffrr.org.

John Timm
Cos Cob

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