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Chabad house proposal receives mixed reviews

A proposal for a Chabad house to be located at 2264 Clarkson Road came before the Chesterfield City Council again on June 17.

The .99-acre property in question is located on the southern corner of the intersection of Clarkson Road and Clarkson Woods Drive at the entrance to the Clarkson Woods Subdivision. Chabad of Chesterfield is requesting a rezoning of the land currently zoned “C8” Planned Commercial District and “R-2” Residence District to an “R-4” Residence District that would allow for development of a place of worship.

2264 Clarkson Road

A Chabad house is a form of Jewish community center that provides educational and outreach activities. Chabad of Chesterfield is directed by Rabbi Avi and Chana’la Rubenfeld, who are currently holding programs and services in their private home.

An earlier proposal by the Rubenfelds was to rezone the site to a commercially zoned lot, but that request was not approved by the city council, Justin Wyse, Chesterfield’s director of planning, said.

As has happened before, the residents who spoke at the meeting via Zoom on June 17 were divided as to whether they were in favor or opposed to the proposal.

“We have participated in numerous events with this organization, enjoying the welcoming atmosphere, although we ourselves are not Jewish,” said Kathy Coldiron. “But we support the organization.”

There are many homeowners in the area that would like to see the property developed, Coldiron said. But resident Sarah Hoffman disagreed.

“The reality is this property was zoned R-2 for a reason,” Hoffman said. “So, allowing a much larger project to go in this space, is simply not in the best interest of the 283 homeowners in our neighborhood.”

Hoffman’s remark was not enough to dissuade Rubenfeld’s enthusiasm.

“Thus far, we’ve done everything we can to reach out and hear from and speak to all of our neighbors,” he said. “Many, many, many of the people we’ve spoken to in the subdivision about this development are really, really excited. We’re looking forward to adding, as public servants, to the positives in the community and being able to serve the needs of the greater community.”

Among concerns about the proposed project is the perceived need for additional parking than the site would allow.

Attorney Greg Otto with Jenkins & Kling and representing the Clarkson Wilson Center commercial development next to the proposed site, said that discussions to allow the Chabad house to use the shopping center as overflow parking were ongoing.

“No concrete resolution was reached,” Otto said. “Both parties agreed to further discuss potential solutions.”

A final vote will not be taken by the city council until its July 20 meeting at the earliest.

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