NEW YORK (Sep. 8)
Gov. Averell Harriman blasted a decision yesterday of the zoning board of nearby Sands Point, Long Island, refusing the Sands Point Community Synagogue the right to use a building and estate which it purchased for a synagogue and religious school . The Governor is a property owner in the exclusive suburban community.
The zoning board’s action yesterday was the latest move in a two-year fight to keep the congregation from using for religious purposes a $215,000 estate consisting of a 42-room mansion, swimming pool, tennis courts, stable and five other buildings set on 24 acres. The 200-member congregation has taken the case to court and, seven months ago, forced the village board to change an ordinance which had specifically barred the use of the estate for religious purposes.
The zoning board based its decision yesterday on the following assertions: the synagogue has not proved that the building meets the state building code specifications; the synagogue wants to use the property for other than religious purposes; the 24 acres is too much for religious purposes, and the location is not proper for such a building.
The attorneys for the congregation contended that the building does meet code specifications and that the congregation offered part of the 24 acres, including the swimming pool to the village for a public recreation development. The town, which has been seeking land for recreational purposes, has not even bothered to reply to the congregation’s offer. The decision of the zoning board will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Gov. Harriman, in a letter to Village Trustee William I. Stoddard, declared "the arbitrary refusal of the board to grant a use permit for the use of the Holmes property (the estate) for this purpose is a shocking thing." He expressed the hope that the village authorities would change their decision. He also advised them to accept the "generous offer" of part of the estate for recreational purposes.