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Friday, June 05, 2009

Lubavitch Shul Expanding

Chabad Lubavitch of Baltimore, at 6701 Old Pimlico Road, has received Baltimore County’s approval to build a 3,600-square-foot addition on the site of an existing playground.

But the synagogue’s Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan said there are no immediate plans to activate the plan. “It’s too early to know if we will build,” he said. “We have to do fund raising first.”

Don Rascoe, of the county’s Department of Permits and Development, said the congregation came to the county several times with versions of the addition proposal. “We agreed to a refinement of a previously approved plan,” he said.

The initial plan was submitted in October 2008. Paul Abrams, a neighbor, said he received a letter from the county informing him of a hearing. Mr. Abrams said he and about eight other neighbors raised questions about the plan and met with Rabbi Kaplan and his wife, Rochelle.

Mr. Abrams said his neighbors were satisfied with the Kaplans’ plan, but he was not.

Another hearing was held last January. County Deputy Zoning Commissioner Thomas Bostwick heard testimony about the plan for a 11⁄2-story addition that would be connected to the main building via a covered hallway. The plan required an amendment to the existing zoning, which Mr. Bostwick subsequently approved.

Mr. Abrams said he attended this hearing and protested the plan, which in his opinion would disrupt the neighborhood. He also brought up the issue of parking, saying the synagogue has a small parking lot that would not accommodate additional activities. No appeals were filed regarding Mr. Bostwick’s decision within the required 30 days.

Mrs. Kaplan said the addition is 11⁄2 stories because of the topography of the land. On the lower level, she said, there would be a social hall and on the main level an adult ed center.

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