Jewish Center plan approved

by Charles Davant Iv | 11/10/94 6:00am

The proposed Center for Jewish Life cleared a hurdle last week when the Hanover Zoning Board approved its expanded parking plan.

A unanimous decision by the Zoning Board last Thursday granted Dartmouth a special exception to town's parking restrictions, thus allowing the center's parking lot to extend onto the land behind Delta Delta Delta Sorority.

The lot is a necessary part of the Center for Jewish Life -- which will be located on Occom Ridge Road -- and without the Board's authorization, construction of the proposed center might have been hindered

The proposed Center has been controversial ever since 70 Occom Ridge Road residents submitted a petition to College President James Freedman and the Board of Trustees last November. The petition expressed concern over "parking size and placement, traffic access and safety, scope of services, and size-design of building."

The Office of Facilities Planning tried to appease residents by reducing the Center's size and increasing the amount of parking. The parking lot plan approved last week includes 41 spaces, 25 of which will be on the same lot as Tri-Delt.

Acting Zoning Board Chair Bill Silverman said the Zoning Board only considered the issue of parking when making its decision. "It was a narrow issue, and that is pure and simply the parking," he said

At a public hearing Oct. 24, opponents of the parking proposal were vocal in their resistance.

Economics Professor Bill Fischel, chairman of the Hanover Zoning Board who stepped down for this case, said the behavior of the residents was not irrational since sometimes the board interprets an issue in a much broader way. He spoke out in favor of the proposal.

The proposed Center will next face a Site Plan Review by the town's Planning Board, said Gordon Dewitt, director of Facilities Planning at the College. The first of these hearings is scheduled for Dec. 20.

Although Dewitt said he anticipates resistance during the next phases of the process, the target date for starting construction remains in the spring of 1996.

Trix Officer, chair of the citizens' group opposing the proposed arrangement, indicated that Occom residents have not yet chosen their next course of action.

Silverman said residents may be able to appeal the decision.

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