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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rogers Officials Ask For Services To Stop

THE MORNING NEWS

ROGERS -- A religious service in a residential neighborhood is causing traffic and parking, problems for neighbors.

City Attorney Ben Lipscomb on Friday sent a letter to Rabbi Mendel Greisman asking he quit holding services in his residence until a conditional-use permit from the city is obtained.

Greisman owns a house at 5402 W. Redbud St. in the Hunter's Run subdivision. The house is listed as the address for the Chabad of Northwest Arkansas, according to the Arkansas County Data Web site at www.arcountydata.com/search.asp.

Churches are allowed in residential zones in Rogers, but only with a conditional-use permit, which Greisman doesn't have. Griesman also hasn't filed for a permit.

Lipscomb said Greisman maintains he is simply host of a Bible study, which most would characterize as different from a church or worship service.

However, Lipscomb said the photos from the Chabad's Web site look like a worship center, and there are reports of between 30 and 40 cars parked in the neighborhood by people attending the Chabad.

"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and has webbed feet like a duck, then it's a duck," Lipscomb said.

Greisman did not return a message left at the residence on Friday.

Lipscomb said he realizes there is a need for Greisman's congregation to meet, but the city also has ordinances that must be followed.

Dan Brown, chairman of the Rogers Planning Commission, told a woman during a meeting on Tuesday that the commission has never denied a conditional use permit for a church. Brown was speaking with regard to another issue.

The issue of the chabad came to Lipscomb's attention when someone called the Rogers Planning and Transportation Department to complain about zoning violations.

Kevin Butler, 5407 W. Redbud St., filed on behalf of the Hunter's Run Property Owner's Association a complaint with Lipscomb's office citing, "Zoning violations, excessive vehicle traffic with parking congestion and excessive pedestrian traffic ... as a result of the opening of the 'Chabad House.'"

Hunter's Run is a subdivision with only 18 houses along two stretches of road that together total less than 1,500 feet. Upon entering Hunter's Run, Redbud Street takes a 90-degree turn to the south then takes another sharp curve to the west.

Cars are parked along this entrance, making it nearly impossible for a fire truck to get through if a house at the back of the neighborhood were on fire, Butler said.

Butler said the subdivision has covenants regarding acceptable traffic and parking situations and operating a business in a residence, although Butler said the covenants say nothing about a religious service.

Lipscomb did not set a deadline for Greisman's compliance.

"I didn't feel like we needed to be heavy-handed. We just want them to follow the city's zoning laws and obtain a conditional use permit," he said.

"If that doesn't happen in a reasonable amount of time, we will revisit the issue," Lipscomb said.

AT A GLANCE

Chabad

Chabad chassidism is a system of religious philosophy teaching understanding and recognition of the creator through the application of the three intellectual qualities of chochmah (wisdom), binah (understanding) and daat (knowledge). The initials of these three Hebrew words form the word "chabad."

Source: The Chabad at the University of Kansas, www.jewishku.com

Web Watch

Chabad Of Northwest Arkansas

www.jewishnwa.org

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

rlester wrote on Oct 20, 2007 8:17 AM:
" Doesn't this infringe on the right to assemble? In this area, new religious works can't afford the property, whether to purchase or rent and now you can't meet at your home either. "

prtzman wrote on Oct 20, 2007 9:50 AM:
" I don't think that it infringes on the right to assemble. Because most times any organization or group of people have to apply for a permit due to city ordinances. The article states that they have not been denied a permit, they just haven't applied for one. I think that so long as the traffic isn't making it difficult for emergency vehicles to make it through the area, they would probably be approved. "