In her Your Say letter of July 17, Janet Abramowitz states that the goal of Stevenson Road synagogue opponents is ”to keep Russian Jews where they belong — out of Stevenson.” I and anyone associated with speaking up about the proposed synagogue categorically reject Abramowitz’s assertion. It is blatantly false without any foundation and is offensive.
I take personal offense to her assertion. I am the son of Russian immigrants, and I was involved in the effort to help welcome and settle Russian Jews during the 1980s. I have sat on the board of a couple of organizations involved in that effort. As a former Baltimore County councilman I was proud of the County under the leadership of County Executive Dennis Rasmussen, who fostered and led efforts to settle Russian Jews in Baltimore County. So that vile accusation of me just won’t stand.
Now to the facts. The opposition to any particular group who would occupy a nonresidential institution at that location on Stevenson Road just south of Keyser Road has nothing to do with the ethnicity or religion of the members of such an institution. It is purely the size and the location of that institution in the neighborhood. The new construction would be 8,000 square feet; far greater than any home in the neighborhood. The synagogue is stipulated as having 88 congregants. The size of this building certainly suggests expansion of that number. The synagogue representatives indicated there would be more than a few occasions with events that would attract more than that number. There are 22 parking spaces proposed for the site. In response to the question of what if attendance exceeded the number of parking spaces, the representatives indicated they could park on Stevenson Road, Gardenview Road or Keyser Road. All are single-lane roads in each direction with no curbs or sidewalks — a clear danger to the neighbors but more importantly to the congregants who would have to walk on these streets at night time. The members of this synagogue should really question the leadership of their own institution for putting them in danger. If their leadership won’t protect the members, the county has an obligation to do it and reject this inappropriate and dangerous proposal.
This is a proposed nonresidential use in a residential zone. It is totally inappropriate to locate an institution of 8,000 square feet in the middle of a residential neighborhood on narrow roads. It is totally not comparable to the silly example cited by Abramowitz of the “mosque” that was located in an existing building at the corner of a major intersection of Slade Avenue and Park Heights Avenue. There is a traffic light there. There are nonresidential institutions located on two of the other three corners. The fourth corner has a high-density high-rise condominium. Each road is two lanes in each direction at that intersection.
While I and all involved in this effort take offense with Abramowitz’s insulting comments, I can assure all of one thing. The only agenda I and everyone has in this effort is to oppose a nonresidential use in a residential neighborhood that is too big, has too much paving, is out of character with this condensed residential neighborhood and doesn’t have any provision realistically to deal with overflow parking.
I have no idea as to what venal self-interested agenda Abramowitz is pursuing that would require her to make such hurtful statements.