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Controversial Sherman Oaks Synagogue Project Moving Again

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The controversial expansion of the Chabad of North Hollywood moved through the Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the City Council yesterday, according to the Daily News. The controversy surrounds the construction of a 12,000 square foot synagogue on Chandler Boulevard in Sherman Oaks (not NoHo). Jeff Gantman, a leader of the group opposing the project, the West Chandler Boulevard Neighborhood Association told the Jewish Journal last week that although he doesn't oppose the synagogue's presence in the neighborhood or its desire to expand, the current plan is "a blemish on an otherwise residential neighborhood." According to an earlier LADN article, the controversy began in 2008, when Chabad announced plans to tear down its 1,400 square foot building and build a 16,000 square foot replacement. The City Planning Commission rejected that plan and a compromise that would have built a 10,000 square foot replacement. After those initial setbacks, the City Council granted the project a conditional use permit and a variance allowing for just five onsite parking spaces in 2009. That decision came at the behest of then Councilmember Jack Weiss, who left office just two weeks later. A lawsuit ensued, producing an August 2011 ruling that sent the project back to the City Council to either approve the original project or downsize it. Following yesterday's approval by the PLUM committee, the project must still be approved by the full City Council, which is expected to give the issue a public hearing next week.
· City panel sides with Chabad over synagogue expansion in Sherman Oaks [LADN]
· Jew vs. Jew in dispute over Chabad of North Hollywood expansion [Jewish Journal]