A few strikes against Jewish institutions hoping to relocate
to West Bloomfield have raised suspicions over motives.
ith a gavel in hand,
newly appointed Super-
visor Sandra Draur sits
in the center of the dais
with the West Bloom-
field Township Board of
Trustees, waiting for
1111, the evening meeting to
She's been in office for three months,
the third supervisor in two years. Work-
ing since 7 a.m., she looks tired. A slim
woman, she's shed nearly 20 pounds and
dropped two clothing sizes since taking
Working for a cause, Draur's commit-
ment to slow, managed growth thrusts
her into the middle of a political
brouhaha. Developers are pointing
fingers at the trustees, calling them anti-
development. Slow growth, they say, is a
smoke screen in a township so tightly
regulated that building is next to im-
Developers are not alone. Jewish groups
are frustrated, suggesting recent board
actions preventing Congregation B'nai
Moshe and the Lubavitch Foundation
from building in West Bloomfield are
The map below shows
how West Bloomfield
will look if Jewish
institutions with plans
to move there are
approved by the West
Board of Trustees.
B'nai Moshe, B'nai
David and the Campus
of Living Judaism, or
Lubavitch Town, are
still in the planning
tfc NG i
WALNUT LAKE ROAD
WALNUT LAKE ROAD
r mOunl n l
B'nai d a
FARMI NGTON ROA D
FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 1990
adverse to their interests and show bias. Jewish Federation Apartments, Con-
West Bloomfield's 51,000 residents in- gregation B'nai David and Temple Shir
clude an estimated 15,000 Jews.
Shalom, which leases space in a West
"It's a sticky wicket issue," says Jewish Bloomfield building and would like to
Welfare Federation President Mark purchase land in the area — have similar
Schlussel. "It is sensitive. The Jewish plans to build and are closely watching
community has reason to be concerned as every town hall move. They may need to go
there has been a pattern of activity in elsewhere.
West Bloomfield which should be careful-
Already there are 23 religious facilities
in the township, each holding tax exempt
"I would hope we could give these elect- status. Among them are Temple Israel,
ed officials the benefit of the doubt," Temple Kol Ami, Congregation B'nai
Schlussel says. "I believe the community Israel, Bais Chabad, Shomrey Emunah-
should continue to work closely with Ohel Moed, Shir Shalom and Beth Abra-
these public officials if questions arise." ham Hillel Moses. Also located within the
Before taking office, Draur's politicking township limits is the Jewish Community
was a one-issue affair —managed growth.
Campus, with the Jewish Community
"I'm in overdrive," Draur says. "But Center housing many offices for Jewish
I'm not complaining. I believe in West institutions, the Holocaust Memorial
Bloomfield. I live here. I want what is Center, senior housing, day camp and
best for the town."
She founded the Organizations United
Recently turned away by the board was
To Save The Township to manage the a Chaldean Catholic church and a Pres-
rapid growth she believed was turning byterian church with housing. Expected
the once-rural community into a de- to be submitted to the township are site
veloper's haven. Under the OUST in- plans for a Chaldean community center,
fluence, the township has been on a rezon- B'nai David and Lubavitch. B'nai
ing roll for the past year and has been Moshe's site plan, approved conceptually
turning away many plans for commercial by township planners, has been repeated-
ly turned down by the board. Now the
development during the past few years.
Since OUST was formed in 1988, no courts will decide its fate.
permits have been granted for commer-
Against the advice of his congregation,
cial projects; six permits were approved B'nai Moshe's Rabbi Allen Meyerowitz has
for office use. Records show that in the been more than vocal about his sen-
last 10 years, the township has issued timents. At a Jan. 29 township board
nearly 7,600 building permits. Of those, 1 meeting, he said:
percent, or 77 permits, were issued to de-
"It is clear they just don't like Jews."
velopers for commercial and office use.
Although congregation spokespersons
West Bloomfield is two-thirds de- say they do not agree with their leader,
veloped. And if its slow-growth leaders the comment put township officials on
have their way, any more building will be guard and prompted a movement to raise
residential — no matter what the cost. consciousness and seek more Jewish in-
Legal fees over pending lawsuits by de- volvement in local politics.
velopers, ultimately paid for by the tax-
Robert Roth, former B'nai Moshe presi-
payers, are skyrocketing. Township offi- dent, said the synagogue has become a
cials could not provide specific figures.
victim of "territorial pettiness."
"We got caught in this conundrum,"
Roth says. "They are extremely anti-
development. I can't say it is anti-Semitic.
WHILE STRIVING TO MAINTAIN ITS That would be speculation and there is no
residential environment, the township is proof. And making accusations that arL
relaying negative messages to B'nai Moshe not based on evidence doesn't get us
and the Lubavitch Foundation.
Town hall records show that throughout
Three other Jewish organizations — the
Negative message to Jews