Less than a month after the Chabad of Southampton won a hotly contested zoning hearing for the right to operate as a house of worship in a residential area, an attorney for some of the neighbors said he’ll appeal the ruling this week.
“We feel they made several key errors,” said David Peirez, a Garden City, L.I., lawyer who said he represents at least two neighbors. He plans to file papers in State Supreme Court asking that the decision of the Village of Southampton Board of Appeals be annulled or revised.
Among the errors, he said, was that the decision violated the state environmental review law. The neighbors he represents raised several objections, among them that the synagogue would create traffic congestion.
Rabbi Rafael Konikov, the congregation’s spiritual leader, pointed out that the board approved his special exception permit request by a 4-1 vote.
“We have been a big asset to the community for almost 11 years,” he said of the congregation, the first synagogue in the village’s 350-year history. “We are now recognized by the village trustees as a viable entity and a representative of the Jewish community of Southampton.”
He said that although the hearing process was drawn out more than a year, he has heard only congratulations from village residents since the June 22 decision. During the course of the proceedings, the congregation bought an adjoining piece of property for $1.4 million, bringing to 1.25 acres the size of its lot on Hill Street. The rabbi said the purchase was made to “accommodate the village” in its request for more off-street parking at the synagogue. In its 35-page decision, the board directed that the congregation provide 16 off-street parking spaces and make some modifications to its property – for instance, requiring that a new driveway be built and that landscaped screening be erected in a 20-foot buffer at one end of the property.
“The use approved by this decision consists of use of the premise as a place of worship and as a one-family dwelling for the rabbi and his family,” said the board, which limited occupancy to 65 persons during the spring and fall.