After years of bouncing around the western suburbs, Chabad Minneapolis is finally able to build a permanent home for itself.
Monday night, the Minnetonka City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the construction of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life. The building will be accessible from Hillside Lane West just east of Hopkins Crossroad. Chabad acquired five residential lots between Hillside and Mill Run which will comprise the new building.
The meeting was attended by many supporters of Chabad, as well as many people in the neighboring homes who had concerns about the project. The publicly available documents in the meeting packet also included many letters of support, criticism, and other concerns and issues about the project.
In 2018, the Minnetonka City Council denied Chabad’s application. That denial led to a significant revision of the plans that led to Monday’s approval. The previous plan covered three lots and had driveway access off of Hopkins Crossroad; the vehicle access from Hopkins Crossroad could present a traffic safety issue which the council also considered in turning them down.
“The vote we took to turn Chabad down previously was a very tough vote,” said Minnetonka Mayor Brad Wiersum. “I believed it was a very intense use of a very small piece of property. That was the main rationale. It was a tough vote, and a risky one.”
Wiersum said that the city council was advised that turning Chabad down last time opened the city up for a lawsuit it was likely to lose.
“We didn’t want to be seen as being biased, but we felt from the perspective of the city, it was right,” Wiersum said. “I want to thank Rabbi Grossbaum and his members for their goodwill and working collaboratively to come up with a better plan. This building is far better. It will look great in Minnetonka.”
The new design of the building will be one story rather than two and cover four lots. The fifth lot will be for a future single-family home. The new design in the main building is more residential in nature, according to city planner Loren Gordon. In the 5 weeks since the city’s planning commission approved the designs, more screening was added to the plans to create more buffering between the Chabad property and the neighboring homes.
“Turning us down last time got us to a much better place, much better building,” said Rabbi Mordechai Grossbaum, the director of Chabad Minneapolis. “It’s a much better use of the property, and hopefully, a safer Minnetonka.”