Location of temple raises question of UH council decision-making
B’Nai Torah congregation has proposed a complex development project on a piece of property too small for the intended purpose. It is in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Leaders and members of the congregation will have a higher moral authority than me to answer to regarding their business dealings and character in the way they have gone about forcing their project on their University Heights neighbors.
The actions of University Heights City Council are another matter.
I can’t think of a better case for a regional government than the recent uncommunicative and then bumbling thought processes of my elected officials regarding this project next to my house. In a stunning display of simplistic reasoning to justify a special-use permit for a house of worship, city council has made political accommodation to a small group of orthodox families at the expense of existing homeowners for the sake of “stabilization.” Site preparation, construction, and operation of a shul and egress for over 200 congregants adjacent to my house is a nightmare scenario. I firmly believe that few people outside this congregation would want to live next to a temple, and this project will negatively affect the market value of my home.
There are a number of issues here that we would all do well to keep straight. One is the matter of putting a big building on a plot for which it is not suited or zoned. A second is that a case must be made openly and persuasively for a special-use permit. A third is that petty politics make at-large council reps accountable only to those who contribute funds to them. A fourth is the conduct of a deliberative body where no one explains their vote despite the vigorous opposition of residents.
Sutart Mendel lives in University Heights.
An additional letter by Mendel to University Heights Mayor Susan Infeld has been published in the Heights Observer/Blogs under "Letters to the Editor."