Chabad of Maine seeks an overdue use permit from the city’s planning board – it’s asking for permission to expand its use to include 4 – 6 boarding rooms – a use it has utilized long prior to this workshop late this afternoon.
Located at 11 Pomeroy Street, a residential area, this single family home serves as a Chabad in Portland. It is the Rabbi’s home as well.
Attorney Tom Federle, a land use attorney, told the planning board that he’s been trying to help the Rabbi with this issue since last year and admitted he hasn’t been successful “because we are still at it.” Federlee, the former real estate attorney for hedge fund owner Donald Sussman, said the Rabbi is trying to keep the property as much like a home as possible and this use is allowable. “There is really a fear of what it might become,” said Federle. “We are asking for a reclassification. I’m sure we can get to a sensible resolution. We’ve been trying for a long time.”
About ten people testified both for and against issuing the conditional use permit for the Chabad. One was Probate Judge Paul Aaranson who attends Chabad. The Judge said he was not threatening legal action, but he recommended the city not “restrict the exercise of religion.”
The planning board members concurred it was ready for the application to go to a vote.
“Staff was afraid to deal with it so they turned it over to the Board,” said Federle, following the l l/2 hour workshop.