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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chabad Lubavitch Center actually looks pretty nice

I have watched the construction of the Chabad Lubavitch Center on Silverside Road. Beginning eight years ago I fought this project, voicing concerns at zoning meetings and in letters to this newspaper. In the end those of us opposed to this project lost.

Judging from the outside, the center is nearing completion. I believe it's worth noting the lessons I learned from my first foray into local politics.

I am still troubled that the Board of Adjustment granted five zoning variances for this project. These variances were challenged in Superior Court, but were upheld in April 2002. The ease with which variances were granted is symptomatic of why development in our county is haphazard and uncontrolled.

However, I was wrong concerning the center itself.

Contrary to what I feared, the building does not look out of place in the neighborhood. The center looks better than other nearby structures. My objections were based on fear of change. The design of the center proves that change isn't always bad when it is done well.

But the most important lesson is that it is critical to stand up to local politicians and bureaucrats. These people are supposed to serve the community - and must be watched carefully to make sure they do so.

Scott Kirwin, Wilmington

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