Group gives up long fight against Kol Shofar expansion

A group of Congregation Kol Shofar’s neighbors in Tiburon has dropped its legal case against the town, ending more than four years of tumult and allowing the synagogue finally to move forward with its expansion project.

The Tiburon Neighborhood Coalition, a group of some 80 families, last week asked for the dismissal of its appeal of a Marin Superior Court ruling that favored Kol Shofar.

“It’s been four and a half years pursuing this, including all the legal maneuvers, so we’re all quite happy to get this behind us,” said Ron Brown, past president for the synagogue and one of the building project leaders.

Earlier this year, the Marin Superior Court had upheld the Tiburon Town Council’s decision to support the synagogue’s expansion project, which includes a new sanctuary, multi-purpose room and classrooms.

Last week, a representative from the neighborhood coalition contacted synagogue leaders, offering to drop the appeal if Kol Shofar would not seek to recover legal costs.

The 600-family congregation intends to break ground on the project in February. The construction is expected to last 15 months, during which time services will be held at the nearby Westminster Presby-

terian Church and religious school will be at Kent Middle School in Kentfield.

“We expect to move back in during the summer 2010,” Brown said.

The neighborhood coalition had been fighting with the synagogue since August 2005, expressing concerns over the synagogue’s original expansion plan. The group cited traffic, noise, lighting and congestion as its main concerns. Kol Shofar eventually submitted a revised plan, which was approved by the Town Council.

In February 2007, the coalition sued the town of Tiburon over its approval of the Kol Shofar expansion plan; the Marin Superior Court heard that lawsuit and denied it.

Brown said he’s optimistic that the legal battle hasn’t entirely soured the synagogue’s relationship with neighbors.

“At this point, we’re all hoping we’ll turn a new corner and form a new relationship with the neighbors,” Brown said. “We’re a part of that neighborhood, and have been since 1984. It’s where we live as well as where they live.”

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.