Lawsuit Filed: Jewish Group Says Litchfield Won't Allow Synagogue

September 11, 2009

Author: Rinker Buck

Source: The Hartford Courant,0,2788357.story

A religious freedom suit over the right of a town to restrict the building plans of an Orthodox Jewish group has been filed in federal district court in Hartford.

Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County, which has been active in this quaint, scenic town during the past decade, has been trying for three years to build a synagogue and a large addition to the 19th century house it owns just off Litchfield's historic green.

But under acrimonious circumstances that many critics have said bordered on anti-Semitism, the Borough of Litchfield's Historic District Commission denied Chabad Lubavitch's application in December 2007. Chabad Lubavitch is now suing on several grounds, including the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The 2000 law prohibits government agencies from imposing regulations that would restrict a group's religious practices, unless there is a compelling government interest.