Locals Oppose Ohel Expansion
Cambria Heights residents are against a planned large building near the Rebbe's Ohel because the "character of our neighborhood would be altered."
Residents of Cambria Heights, Queens, living in close proximity to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Ohel gravesite are fighting the center's plan to expand, the Daily News is reporting.
The Ohel Chabad Lubavitch, which owns five homes adjacent to the gravesite on Francis Lewis Blvd., is seeking a zoning variance to expand its facility to better accommodate overnight visitors.
The plan is to join the homes and build a large structure in the backyard, to create one large building.
An estimated several hundred followers a day visit the gravesites of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe, and that number swells into the thousands during holidays and dates with significance in the Jewish and Chassidic calendar. Upwards of 20,000 people visit each summer on the Rebbe's yahrtzeit.
But residents opposing the plan say “the character of our neighborhood would be altered due to higher intensity of use, increased population, and increased traffic," and complain that visitors already park in front of their driveways and take all the area parking spots. Building a permanent dorm in the residential neighborhood would just worsen the problem, they said.
Rabbi Abba Refson, who directs the center at the Ohel, declined to comment on the proposal but said that visitors will continue to flock to the area whether the new structure is built or not.
The city Board of Standards and Appeals will make a final decision on the plan.