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Should A Controversial Mormon Church Be Allowed In Flushing?

Community members oppose the construction of an LDS church, but probably not for the reasons you think.

Bayside activists are dogmatic in their opposition to the construction of a Latter Day Saints Church in Flushing, but purportedly not for religious reasons.

If the church were to be built at 145-15 33rd Ave. as planned, it would account for 23,000 square feet of its neighborhood in Flushing, and have a 94-foot steeple. A protest held on March 8 drew many neighborhood preservationists, including Bayside Hills Civic Association President Michael Feiner. In Feiner's words:

It is about , this time with a Church that is asking for three variances to build a 23,000-square-foot building on the land it owns at 145-15 33rd Avenue. A 12,000-square-foot structure is allowed there under current zoning. The plan also calls for a 94-foot steeple, which would end up being one of the tallest structures in Queens.

We have to support the opposition for these variances for not for only the obvious reason, that this structure would not fit the character of the neighborhood and that the variances requested by the church go against zoning laws, but also the opposition is led by many of the people who supported us against the illegal home in the garden of a corner .

An urban planner who designed the area's zoning, Paul Graziano, worries that if the church is permitted by the Board of Standards and Appeals, "...it will set a precedent in all R1 and R2 districts throughout the city, allowing houses of worship to undo all of our hard work a decade ago in getting the Community Facilities Zoning Text Amendments passed."

In the analysis of Andy Rothman, a Community Board 11 member, the BSA approves "almost everything," regardless of what the Community Board, or Borough Presidents recommend.

Baysiders have historically been wary of new religious structures being built within residential neighborhoods, often citing parking concerns, as well as the effect of crowding and noise levels on home values. In 2009, the East Bayside Homeowners Association went to bat with Jesus Covenant Church, a Korean congregation. The New York Times authored a piece at the time that implied opposition to the church was less about zoning and parking, and more about its demographics.

The EBHA opposed the construction of a Chabad synagogue a few years prior, and the BCHA virulently opposed the construction of a .

art shaw March 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Why is it alright for Korean churches to be erected everywhere,and not this church.
David G March 13, 2012 at 01:33 PM
We have neighborhood church all over New York City. I have a Lutheran church across the street from my house. It is certainly larger than the proposed LDS church. We don't mind. That's how it should be in NYC. We are a city of immigrants with varied people's and beliefs. What a shame it is that the people in this neighborhood don't get that. One can't help but wonder if it were a catholic church being proposed for an Italian - American congregation if it would be opposed. I think not. I suspect that it is pure bigotry.
Phil Konigsberg March 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Community Board 7 voted unanimously to reject an application to build the LDS Church on 33 Avenue strictly because of the variances that were insisted upon by the applicant, not because of any religious or ethnic reason as seems to be suggested by the above two comments. In addition, Borough President Helen Marshall also denied the application at her public hearing. I think the application would have been approved by CB 7 if the church was willing to conform more to the zoning regulations and to build a structure that fit the character of the existing neighborhood. However, the applicant chose not to revise their application. One typo exists on the civic's initials indicated in the last paragraph. The Bay Terrace Community Alliance (BTCA) has not opposed the construction of a single family house. I believe the initials should be BHCA for the Bayside Hills Civic Association.
Lori Gross March 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Yes, I fixed the acronym. Thank you, Phil.
Francis Lewis March 13, 2012 at 07:13 PM
It is not all right for Korean churches, or any kind of churches, to be erected when they violate the zoning rules.
Francis Lewis March 13, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Since you refer to "this neighborhood", it's clear that it is not your neighborhood. There are many churches in the neighborhood in question, including an LDS Church which is on a piece of land the same size as the land the LDS wants to build on. The existing land, which they own, is zoned R7 which means they could easily enlarge their building to any required size. Therefore, this variance is unnecessary. That is why it is being opposed.
Francis Lewis March 13, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Nobody should be worried about discrimination in this variance request - the NYC BSA will take anybody's money. You just have to go through an appropriate bag man. Since almost no request is turned down, I guess everyone in the building industry knows who the bag men are. You can be sure this request will be approved. My cat knows more about architecture than the BSA, but she has no pockets, and therefore, is not qualified to be on the BSA. In other areas of New York State, their BSA's turn down about one half of all requests.
Lori Gross March 13, 2012 at 08:51 PM
"In other areas of New York State, their BSA's turn down about one half of all requests." That's an interesting tidbit. If you have any source of hard data for that, please send it my way. Email lori.gross@patch.com.
Ray Swenson March 14, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Mormon churches do not decrease property values and they build parking sufficient for the participants. Mormon church buildings are designed specficially to house two or three congregations of no mire than 500 people because they have no paid clergy, and that size gives everyone an opportunity to participate. They avoid super large congregations because people get lost in crowds. All the talk about the "character of the neighborhood" is pretty vague. Most Mormon churches are in residential neighborhoods. They don't create traffic jams and they don't play drums or guitars. They don't go out and blitz the neighborhood and try to pressure people to come to their church. They mind their own business. They have a worship service each Sunday where they take the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. On the first Sunday of each month, they fast from two meals and donate the food money to help the poor. They don't run day care services or private schools or hold political rallies. They worship and pray.
Sara March 14, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Why can't they just stay within the zoning regulations?
Michael Feiner March 15, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I just wish everybody would take a look with their own eyes at this location before they post any opposition. What is being asked for makes no sense in that spot. That's all there is to it!
Francis Lewis March 18, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Sorry Mike, But it would be inconvenient for many of those commenting to "look with their own eyes" - they live in Utah! But don't worry, if their is a dispute about Sheep Ranching in Utah, you will be able to get on the Salt Lake City Patch and make comments.
Francis Lewis March 18, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Ray, If 'All the talk about the "character of the neighborhood" is pretty vague', it's probably because you don't live in the neighborhood. In 2009, there was a big political fight in our area about changing the zoning rules to keep neighborhoods of small single family homes from being destroyed by real estate operators ripping them down and replacing them with large concrete buildings. That's when the R2A rule that forbids so large a building was created. In fact, it would not have been allowed even under the old rule. Around here a lot of people like drums and guitars - but we don't appreciate people from other areas who attack the zoning protections that we struggled to achieve. This is an "area" variance request, not a "use" variance request. If you want to build a Mormon church on the plot that meets all of the zoning square footage and height requirements, go right ahead. There is nothing in the zoning rules that prohibits a church at this location.
Martin Z Fink April 26, 2012 at 03:51 PM
The Avellenees were all over the meeting insisting any church but theirs was a bank. A year ago, Kevin Walsh was picking on Greek and Bukharin temples. A decade ago Avella was picking on NEQ Chabad and Greek Holy Cross. A decade before that, Lopresto was calling the Armenian and Korean churches "catering halls" and objected to College Point Chabad "breeders". If they didn't try to lord them over us, the treasonable nature of their long roots might not be fair game. Flushing white trash were avid subscribers to the banned Brooklyn Eagle and der Sturmer, supporting lynchings on negroes. Flushing white trash sided with the enemy in Civil War, both world wars and now. Willets Point was the site of the famous September, 1861 Cresto Sassi Germani insurrection. Macedonia AME had to threaten St Michael's with DOUBLE retaliation. They created the Conservatives because they refused to vote for the party of Lincoln's "ni@@er war" or Ike's bombing their 'eternal' city. That's why Tom Bolan persecuted Adam Clayton Powell (to put his crony Rangel in) and Lyn Hermyle Larouche before joining Roy Cohn in sports racketeering.

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