Litchfield Historic District Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Dismiss Synagogue Dispute

Feb 18, 2015

The Historic District of Litchfield Connecticut is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit regarding the rejection of plans for a synagogue in 2007. Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest Connecticut cited the Litchfield Historic District Commission for religious discrimination over the denial of modifications to their building. 

The commission and the Borough of Litchfield asked the Supreme Court on Monday to hear the case. The move comes after the lawsuit was at first dismissed by a federal judge, then reinstated by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan in September.

Upon reinstatement,  C. Scott Schwefel, a lawyer for the Historic District Commission, told The Associated Press:

"We're confident that the District Court ... will determine that there is still no genuine issue of material facts and will again dismiss the action."

The Chabad is squarely situated in the historic district of Litchfield, so the historic district has jurisdiction over the exterior features of the building visible from a public way. Following state mandate, the Chabad had applied to the historic district commission in order to construct an addition to their existing synagogue.

After multiple discussions, the commission denied the application, pending modifications to the design and submission of an amended proposal.

The plans for the addition included a synagogue, rabbi's residence, and pool for a summer camp. The commission cited that the 17,000-square-foot addition was too large and out of character with other buildings in the historic district.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.