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Lubavitch seeks approval to use West Street house
Litchfield.bz (03-19-13)


Lubavitch of Litchfield County wants to use its Victorian on West Street as a synagogue. BZ photo

The rabbi is plotting his next move in Litchfield.

Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach, leader of the Lubavitch of Litchfield County Orthodox Jewish organization, wants to relocate his flock to the red Victorian Lubavitch owns in the center of town, the same house that is the focus of a federal lawsuit initiated by Eisenbach and his followers against Litchfield's Historic District Commission.
 
Lubavitch last week filed an application with the Planning and Zoning Commission seeking approval to use the house at 85 West St. as a synagogue. The plan calls for paving of driveways and parking areas, but no changes to the exterior of the 136-year-old building. Planning and zoning received the application on Monday and will consider it during an upcoming public hearing.
 
Lubavitch has been headquartered in the Village Green plaza for several years but wants to move out. The organization bought 85 West St., which totals 2,656 square feet, and in 2007 proposed turning it into a 21,011 square-foot synagogue and community center, a plan that was rejected by the Historic District Commission.
 
The proposed size of the project and its effect on the architectural character of the center of town were cited by the HDC in the application's rejection.
 
Lubavitch responded to the rejection by filing a discrimination lawsuit in federal court in Bridgeport. When a judge called the lawsuit frivolous and dismissed it last year, Lubavitch filed an appeal of the dismissal, in federal court in New York City. That case is pending.