The Chabad House in Towson, Maryland, is “in limbo” on whether its $800,000 expansion will be razed, according to famed attorney Nathan Lewin.
Friends of Lubavitch, Inc., which owns the Rohr Chabad Jewish Center at Towson and Goucher, and its residents Rabbi Mendy and Shainy Rivkin, are awaiting the next steps in their case, after being granted a stay of the demolition.
The reprieve follows a years-long fight that officially started in 2016, but whose battlefield was laid years before.
Friends of Lubavitch purchased the home of the Rivkins in 2008 to use as a residence and to serve as the area Chabad House. The Rivkins host Shabbat meals, Jewish learning, and programming for Jewish students studying at Towson University and Goucher College.
Though the couple and their seven children live in the house, FOL obtained a tax waiver as a “Jewish student center,” which they maintain to the present.
In 2014, the Rivkins announced plans to expand the property from 2,200-square-feet to 6,614-square-feet. In 2015, FOL applied for a permit to build a parsonage on the property, which was denied.
Months later, FOL applied again, this time to the Administrative Law Judge, which granted FOL a residential building permit, which would allow the couple to expand their “existing single family residential dwelling to be used solely as additional living space for the family who reside therein.”
The permit was granted despite a 1950s restrictive covenant on Aigburth Road, where the house is located, which requires structures to be set back at least 112 feet from the curb. The Chabad House is roughly 62 feet from the street.