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  • Kevin Elliott

Township approves orthodox Jewish Chai Center

The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees on Wednesday, June 12, unanimously approved special land use permission and a site plan for the relocation of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chai Center to 36300 Woodward Avenue.

The approval follows a zoning ordinance amendment in January that allowed for places of worship to be permitted in O-1 office district zoning.

The center will be located in a former PNC Bank branch, and brings an end to a three-year effort on behalf of the center to locate at the building.

Bloomfield Township Planning Director Patti Voelker said plans to occupy the 2,992 square-foot building began in April of 2016, when an attorney representing the Borsand Family Foundation, Jewish Values Institute and Paragon Properties requested using the building as a learning center. At the time, the proposal was contrary to the office district zoning. However, changes made that year to the proposed floor plan and use as an office space only for the Jewish Learning Center were determined to be in line with the spirit of the previous ordinance.

The township in January of 2019 updated the zoning of the 0-1 office zoning requirements to allow for places of worship, as the district serves as a transition between commercial districts, major thoroughfares having right-of-way of 150 feet or greater, and adjacent to single-family residential districts. That change then led to the Borsand Family Foundation pursuing the relocation of the Chai Center to the location.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Chai Center is a small Orthodox shul that holds services on Shabbat (Saturday) and Jewish holidays. The center was established in 1985 and is led by Rabbi Tzvi Muller. The center currently holds services on Friday evening and Saturday at the Birmingham Masonic Lodge.

Under the plans, the center is permitted to have seating for 56 congregation members for educational and worship purposes, as well as 10 additional seats in five offices.

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