Lubavitch of Old Westbury proposes synagogue on Glen Cove Road

Lubavitch of Old Westbury proposes synagogue on Glen Cove Road
Cameron Engineering and Associated partner Kevin McAndrew presents the preliminary plans for The Lubavitch of Old Westbury synagogue set for Glen Cove Road. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

An Orthodox Jewish congregation has filed an application to build a one-story synagogue with two below-grade floors on a 5.27-acre plot along Glen Cove Road in Old Westbury that will include a ritual bathing facility, three swimming pools and a gym.

The Lubavitch of Old Westbury presented their plans to the Village of Old Westbury Board of Trustees at a public hearing on Monday.

The preliminary plans for The Lubavitch of Old Westbury synagogue include a mikveh, two outdoor pools, one indoor pool, a gym and a 1,400-square-foot sanctuary. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

The application would require nine variances from the village to build the facility at 267 Glen Cove Road, including ones for lot area, lot width and depth, front yard setback, side yard setback, rear yard setback, lot coverage, undeveloped space and off-street parking as well as a special permit exception as a place of worship.

Represented by Kevin McAndrew, a partner with Cameron Engineering and Associates, Lubavitch of Old Westbury would build on 5.27 acres owned by Rabbi Aaron Konikov.

Currently, Konikov’s home resides near the center of the Glen Cove Road frontage but would be moved further south if the project is approved.

The Orthodox synagogue is estimated at 4,297 square feet of above-grade space as well as two levels below grade.

Lubavitch, also known as Chabad, is one of the largest Hasidic groups and Jewish organizations nationwide. Konikov is also affiliated with Chabad of Roslyn.

McAndrew said the above-ground level will have a lobby, three classrooms, office spaces and restrooms.

The first below-grade level will include two separate libraries, a study hall and more office spaces.

The second below-grade level, estimated at 11,000 square feet, will house an indoor swimming pool, male and female locker rooms, a gym, a 1,400-square-foot sanctuary space, a Kiddush room and more office spaces with an exit to the outside onto a garden terrace with tiered stairs.

The above-ground portion of the building is expected to be 19 feet, 5 inches tall.

When Konikov purchased the property, which at the time housed a landscape nursery, in 2000, it was zoned as a BB area — a residential space less than two acres. As it has grown, the area is now zoned as B4 since it is more than four acres.

McAndrew said 60 paved parking spots are planned for the property, spread out between three parking zones. The synagogue will also have a flat grass area along Glen Cove Road to accommodate additional parking if needed and could house up to 61 additional cars.

“It’s noteworthy that the operations proposed and shown within the traffic study have a demand of no greater than 35 parking spaces on the property,” McAndrew said. “The 60 spaces is more than what will be necessary to satisfy the actual need.”

Currently, a mikveh and two above-ground swimming pools are under construction along the southern border of the property behind the homes along Bacon Road.

Resident Jeff Kopelman said construction has been taking place behind his fence for months, but he only received notification of the plans for the property about a week ago.

Resident Gary Gullo said his Bacon Road home is expected to back up to one of the three paved parking areas on the property and will be near the two pools.

“To me, synagogue is a place of worship, but I’m hearing about swimming pools and a gym,” Gullo said. “I’m wondering if I’m going to have a couple hundred kids in my backyard Saturday afternoons during my peace and quiet.”

McAndrew said the plans are also being submitted to Nassau County since Glen Cove Road is owned by the county.

McAndrew said he expects the county to require a dedicated left-turn lane on Glen Cove Road into the property but has not heard back from the county Department of Public Works about the preliminary traffic study yet.

“The majority of the congregants that will drive here are projected to arrive from the north, so providing for that dedicated turn lane was a key consideration in where that driveway with the center median is proposed,” McAndrew said.

Trustee Marina Chimerine said she was concerned about adding a new left-turn lane less than 100 feet from the existing left turn onto Bacon Road, citing a fear of confusion and accidents in the area between the two turns.

Resident Raymond Catanzano said he was concerned about not taxing the large plot of land, but Konikov, who only addressed the board or residents through McAndrew, said the property has been under tax exemption status for about 20 years.

Village Attorney Michael Sahn reminded residents this was the first public hearing of many and said the project would take “several years” before completion.

“Being a place of worship, there are certain legal accommodations that are afforded to the applicant, but nonetheless, this is subject to review by the village and its consultants for compliance with code and for our review under the state’s environmental quality review act,” Sahn said.

Sahn said until the village’s engineers and consultants can analyze the plans, they cannot advise trustees.

The public hearing was continued to the Jan. 16 meeting, moved from the third Monday of the month because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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