Synagogue suit shows contradictions, questions

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

These are statements from the Greenwich Reform Synagogue (GRS) RLUIPA lawsuit about the search for property for a new synagogue.

In the “Purchase of the Subject Property and Surrounding Area” section of the suit against the town of Greenwich it states:

“48. In order to address its religious needs, by 2011 the Congregation had begun a search for a new location. Among its criteria were the correct zoning for a house of worship, location near the Post Road (Route 1) for access, minimal traffic issues, adequate permitted size, a buildable lot and adequate room for parking.”

“49. Much time and effort was devoted to the Congregation’s search. Investigation, negotiation and/or offers were made on seven properties, all without success. Many parcels were unaffordable for the Congregation, and some offers at the listed price were refused.”

“55. The Subject Property was the only site within the Town of Greenwich that the Congregation could purchase that was zoned for its use and physically met its needs.”

It appears that there are contradictions

Section 49 “Investigation, negotiation and/or offers were made on seven properties, all without success…”

Section 55 “The Subject Property was the only site within the Town of Greenwich that the Congregation could purchase that was zoned for its use and physically met its needs.”

Why would GRS investigate and make offers on seven properties if only one was zoned for its use and physically met its needs?

Section 49 “Many parcels were unaffordable for the Congregation.”

The former GRS property at 257 Stanwich Road was assessed in 2010 for $16 million dollars and the selling price estimated by the Assessor’s Office was $15.5 million dollars (the actual sale price of a property between two exempt entities isn’t required to be recorded). Is it hard to believe that there weren’t any parcels that would have met the GRS’ requirements that they could not afford?

Section 49 “and some offers at the listed price were refused.”

When you offer to pay the listed price for a property and the seller refuses to sell it to you, as happened to GRS, isn’t that discrimination?

 

John Timm
Cos Cob

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