Neighbors sue to block new Brighton synagogue
A group of residents living near the site of a proposed synagogue on Bennett Street in Brighton yesterday sued to block its construction, saying the new building and attached rabbi's residence would simply be far too large for a congested, narrow street.
In a suit filed in Suffolk Superior Court, 19 residents of Bennett, Parsons and Arlington streets say the Zoning Board of Appeal should not have approved variances for Congregation Khal Tiferes Yosef's proposal for 49 Bennett St. and that they were ignored throughout the approval process and even accused of anti-Semitism despite the fact that a number of the opponents are themselves Jewish.
The suit, which asks the court to rescind the board's Dec. 6 decision, says that even aside from the issue of allowing a large building on a street with mostly single-family homes, the synagogue would be too close to the street and neighboring homes, could cause drainage problems for downhill neighbors, that its roof-mounted heavy-duty HVAC system would be noisy and that the project could even lead to Bennett Street becoming blocked after snowstorms because plans show no room in which to dump shoveled or plowed snow.
The absence of any snow removal plan represents a serious public health and safety concern.
The neighbors say the lot has no particular "hardships" to require variances, because it's large enough under its existing zoning to support a much larger house than the current two-family the congregation wants to replace, just not a building as large as the congregation wants - roughly 14,000 square feet, compared to the roughly 2,000-square-foot house there now. In addition to worship spaces, the new building would include a residence for the rabbi, a room for after-service get-togethers, a ritual bath and an 800-square-foot rear deck.
The neighbors argue that the board should not have approved plans that call for just five parking spaces rather than the 16 they say the zoning code requires. Despite the orthodox congregation's assertions that members don't drive to Saturday services, the congregation's existing home, in the basement of Rabbi Shloimy Halpern nearby house, already clogs up roads with weekday visitors even with its seven off-street spaces. The new shul, which could have an occupancy of 300 people, compared to the 59 who can now fit into Halpern's basement, would only invite even more people for weddings and other events, the complaint charges.
At the zoning hearing, an attorney for the congregation said it would not be renting out the food area for large gatherings, such as weddings.
Also, the neighbors don't buy the argument that nobody would drive to the synagogue on Saturday, because congregants might have less observant friends who would drive there.
The building, they continue, would cast shadows on some neighboring homes and that a proposed rear deck would be eye level with the second floor windows of some homes off Arlington Street:
This imposing structure will loom over Plaintiffs' abutting properties to the substantial detriment of their reasonable use of their property and the quality of their lives.
Watch the board's hearing:
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Boy this is a stretch.. "drainage problems" because of HVAC units?!? What do these people is coming out of the units, the Charles River?!? Gimme a break.
and OMG snow removal being an issue? I'd love to go over there after a snow storm to see if everyone has their sidwalks and driveways all shoveled out and snow free within 24 hours of a snow storm as required by law. I bet I'd see alot of snow-covered walkways.
What load of sh*t this is. These folks just don't want any development near them.
jfc people its a house of worship.. you'd think some homeless shelter or methadone clinic was moving in next door.
I’d rather have a methadone treatment…
… facility or shelter for the unhoused near me than a congregation of worshippers.
In fact I have several of all three within a few blocks.
The first two provide genuine help. Not state of the art architecture but not creepy either. The third takes your money and abuses your kids.
Your point about shoveling is well taken, though.
Yeah I thought about this too
I live across the street from a Pentacostal church... ceremonies day and night. Often into the late evening. Parisioners who take up all the parking on the street on certain days. They are pretty flippant about laws too... during covid's height, they were still having services, maskless.
So yeah I get it. But a Synagogue's worship is pretty standard hours and pretty predicable.
I think my point was more about 'neighboring issues' like noise or people hanging around out front...
It would depend if this would be ..,
… a temple where services are quiet and at regular hours or if it will be used for other type events.
A friend of mine lived until recently in the old Jewish quarter in the Marais in Paris. He was woken almost nightly by loud and exuberant midnight dancing and singing by large groups of men. Then there was the con man who daily lured gullible male tourists under my friend’s office window into experiencing the tefillin with him for “donations” to Israel. The droning along with being accosted whenever he went to the laundromat and accused of disrespecting his heritage for not caring to engage in religious discussions while sorting his socks finally drive him out of the neighborhood.
So the building looks like it’s meant to appeal more to proper and stuffy C of E types than noisy crazed offshoot hassidim proselytizers. But you never know what directions congregations will go in. The religious are not to be trusted, in my experience, at a slightly higher percentage than the non religious.
That sounds great! If there's
That sounds great! If there's really nightly exuberant dancing in the street, I'll have to put this on my todo list the next time I'm in Paris.
Did you really just say that out loud?
This synagogue is in no way related to the Boston Archdiocese.
Are you really that naive?
That you think child abuse is limited to just one religious sect?
Well, I didn't want to provide a full list...
I guess Evangelicals would be a strong 2nd place, at least in the US.
If you are insinuating that (reported) occurrences of SA within the Jewish faith are equal to or greater than those in the Catholic Church, either domestically or globally, then you would be on the fringes of pure lunacy.
Particularly given that approximately 10% of American Jews identify as Orthodox
Not sure what you're point is
Not sure what you're point is. I was merely pointing out that your assertion that sexual abuse is not a problem within Judaism is false. And just to clear the air, I am Jewish.
Yes, you are naive.
Have always struck me so with the way you cling to stereotypes and your misogyny.
I’m not insinuating anything, silly fool.
But keep trying to shove words in my mouth.
It’s good exercise, to try to reach so far beyond your grasp.
Sorry for a convoluted sentence
They say the building could cause drainage issues because it would cover up so much of the lot with impermeable surfaces. Separately, they say the HVAC unit would make a lot of noise.
*hands you a box of straws*
And this is why I'm a fan
of the Oxford comma :)
This is antisemitic, no other way to spin it. Boston should be a welcome place to be jewish.
Is it? Or is it just nimbys being nimbys? They'd register the same complaints if it were a 14,000 sq. ft. Catholic church, a homeless shelter, a healthcare facility, a multi-family development, whatever. They don’t have to be antisemitic, they could just be your run of the mill, pain in the ass New England nimbys who think that their own property rights extend far, far beyond the bounds of their own deeded property.
(Just like these losers in Braintree. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/02/07/business/housing-development-sout...)
Unitarian, Catholic, Spaghetti Monster, pick whatever god you want, the neighborhood doesnt want god business in their area.
And good for them.
What about St Cols?
Another god business right up the road from here. Sure it's existed for awhile at that location but so has this congregation nearby.
Willing to bet these busybodies would have the same talking points if say, oh I dunno, St. Cols sells the land to be developed for housing.
Yeah I don't think it's about the god business opposition, sounds like textbook NIMBYism.
> Willing to bet these busybodies would have the same talking points if say, oh I dunno, St. Cols sells the land to be developed for housing.
when BC attempted to build student housing in St John's seminary, it was met with massive nimby response with basically identical talking points
My Mom went to St Col's High
My Mom went to St Col's High School. :)
The story says that several of the complaining neighbors are Jewish.
You got the …
…. spin part right.
naw, this isnt antisemitism.
naw, this isnt antisemitism. Its just NIMBY's being NIMBY's. As an outsider with no ball in the game, I think both sides need to make some concessions to make this work.. and quit with the virtue signaling.
Oh queue up the faux concern
Maybe the same neighbors, maybe not. But I can say from going through here after storms that plenty of existing neighbors are creating a serious health and safety concern.
I've never seen my building's
I've never seen my building's snow removal plan. In fact, I've never even heard of such a thing. Yet somehow the snow gets removed every storm, even from buildings with zero setbacks.
The suit gets into this issue in a bit more detail
With no place to put the snow on its property, the synagogue will have to hire a contractor to collect and remove snow, which means large vehicles that will block the street while their shoveling up all the snow. Or so the neighbors say.
How is that any different
How is that any different than all the houses with a single-track driveway where a contractor has to park a truck in the street while using a snowblower?
There is more space to put
There is more space to put the snow than at my house around the corner .... Back in 2015 the snow was over the first floor windows in the front ....
Welcome to urbanization,….
…. neighbors. Better that than more suburban sprawl.
Not just shadows
Sinister, cosmopolitan shadows.
To use the Stalinist term.
(I don't know that Putin has revived this particular one, but would not be surprised if there is a new equivalent).
The parking thing sounds like a valid point.
If the *current* location already has parking issues, why shouldn't the new location?
The snow removal thing sounds silly, though. In the rendering, there's a front lawn on which to dump snow, just like everyone else does.
No idea on the other points.
Two points: first, the
Two points: first, the current location doesn't have unreasonable parking issues. It's a busy intersection a couple blocks off Market St. and off Washington St., sometimes you have to park a couple houses away from where you're going. But it's extremely rare that street parking is full.
Second, the project will not create new parking issues because the membership is not growing as a function of the project. It's still going to be the same constituency parking there.
In general, the synagogue is at capacity primarily on Shabbat, which coincides with the time its members can't drive.
I missed that they're Orthodox
but the article did say there are already parking issues on weekdays. *shrug* I don't know the area.
Where there are parking issues...
...they seem to be largely due to parishioners of St. Columbkille's.
Or Street cleaning.
Or Street cleaning.
Yup, or that. The street cleaning is one of those "sounds good on paper" things - they really do a terrible job.
Zoning v the Free Enterprise Clause, always interesting
Zoning usually loses.