Today’s news:

Flushing to hold rally over plan of Mormon church

Lawyer Daniel Braff (l.) explains the Mormon church's proposal for a chapel on 33rd Avenue, which would require several variances, to Borough President Helen Marshall, who later recommended to deny it.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Flushing civics were set to hold a rally this week to try to persuade the city Board of Standards and Appeals to deny plans for a Mormon chapel on 33rd Avenue.

The proposal for the two-story church, which exceeds several zoning laws, was most recently recommended for denial Feb. 23 by Borough President Helen Marshall.

The plan was unanimously turned down by Community Board 7 in January.

Both Marshall and CB 7 put in their recommendations before the BSA either grants several variances to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or sends it back to the drawing board.

Church officials said they would push on through the process, according to David Duffy, head of a group of 11 Mormon churches in the surrounding area.

“We’re disappointed at the opposition, but understand where it’s coming from,” he said. “The problem they are not understanding is that this is a church, not a house or a multi-unit complex, and the increase in the square footage is for extra space for children to have Bible study lessons.”

Duffy spoke to TimesLedger Newspapers after Marshall released her assessment for the chapel, which seeks to double the allowable floor space for a building in the recently rezoned residential district.

Marshall recommended that the request for variances should be denied on three grounds.

First, the area where the Mormons want to build the 23,097-square-foot chapel, at 145-13 33rd Ave., was rezoned in 2009 to promote the construction of single-family detached homes, she said.

Secondly, the church is proposing to have a 94-foot steeple which would be one of the tallest structures in the area and out of character with the rest of the neighborhood, she said.

Lastly, Marshall asked the church to consider building a chapel on property it already owns at 144-27 Sanford Ave., where the zoning would permit a large structure.

Duffy said the church had not expected to run into so many problems getting its plan approved in New York City.

“There is such a precedent for this kind of building that we have normally in the church, and this is a standard building pattern,” he said. “These buildings have been granted all over the country.”

Zoning lawyers for the church have contended that they can already build a chapel with extremely tall ceilings. Doubling the allowable floor space would permit them to have an extra floor inside and would only raise the overall height about 10 feet.

But activist and zoning expert Paul Graziano, who has been a vocal opponent of the church’s plans, said 10 extra feet is considered a standard story on a house, and that the Mormon church has room to build on the Sanford AVenue land it already owns.

The church has contended that the space is too small for its chapel, but the LDS Church recently cut the ribbon on a church in Jamaica that was built on a much smaller area.

According to a TimesLedger Newspapers analysis of blueprints for the Jamaica chapel, it has nearly all the same amenities as the proposed Flushing chapel.

In response to this information, Duffy said the Jamaica church is too cramped.

“The difference between the Jamaica and Flushing buildings is that the Flushing building has things spread out whereas Jamaica is stacked on top of each other,” he said.

Duffy also said he would not want to displace the congregation if they were to tear down the old Christian Science chapel they are using now and construct a new one in its place.

But Graziano said the Jamaica church is so small the Sanford Avenue chapel could remain while the LDS Church built it in a slightly modified form in the parking lot.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Reader Feedback

Phil Ollero says:
Here we go again. The anti Mormons are at it again. Hiding in the guise of "gee I'm concern about the height of the steeple, the traffic it will create or the zoning law and etc. these people are just bigots. When they hear the word Mormon, they go into convulsions. Who are the real Christians here? The people who are trying to build a house of worship or the ones that are trying to stop it?
March 8, 2012, 7:31 am
David G from Staten Island says:
It is nice that Mr. Graziano is so concerned about LDS church needs. But perhaps he should trust that the church is much more aware of it's needs than he is. One does wonder if it were a proposed Catholic church, if Mr. Graziano, Ms. Marshall and the community board would have opposed it. I doubt it.
March 8, 2012, 10:14 am
David G from Staten Island says:
It is nice that Mr. Graziano is so concerned about LDS church needs. But perhaps he should trust that the church is much more aware of it's needs than he is. One does wonder if it were a proposed Catholic church, if Mr. Graziano, Ms. Marshall and the community board would have opposed it. I doubt it.
March 8, 2012, 10:14 am
David G from Staten Island says:
It is nice that Mr. Graziano is so concerned about LDS church needs. But perhaps he should trust that the church is much more aware of it's needs than he is. One does wonder if it were a proposed Catholic church, if Mr. Graziano, Ms. Marshall and the community board would have opposed it. I doubt it.
March 8, 2012, 10:14 am
Major B from Long Island City says:
Looks like Duffy is keeping up the tradition of lying for the Lord.

"increase in the square footage is for extra space for children to have Bible study lessons.”

Of course it's for the children ... and no mention of the Book of Mormon. See folks... we're just like you!
March 8, 2012, 12:41 pm
AJ from Flushing says:
So why is my comment being blocked?
March 8, 2012, 1:14 pm
AJ from Flushing says:
Great.Now the doorbells will never cease ringing!!! Bigger Church means more room for missionaries---more missionaries mean more annoying housecalls by 19 year old 'elders'.
March 8, 2012, 1:14 pm
Moracle from Okeefenokee says:
If those who oppose this Church building only knew whose Church it really is (The Church of Jesus Christ) they would likely bend over backward to make the construction possible.

Anyone who assists in the building of His kingdom, in any way, will be blessed in may ways.
March 8, 2012, 2:10 pm
Curtis Hancock from CANADA says:
This Christian church building will be built well with simple yet appealing architecture. It will benefit the community particularly the youth as it will have a gymnasium for them to enjoy and participate in healthy recreation! Hopefully the community will become more informed and welcoming and not get caught up in subtle anti-Mormon innuendo. (My great Uncle "John Hancock" certainly would not oppose this worthy pursuit.)
March 8, 2012, 2:18 pm
Angsty says:
“The problem they are not understanding is that this is a church, not a house or a multi-unit complex..."

It's pretty arrogant to suggest that objectors don't realize this.
March 8, 2012, 2:35 pm
new name from Reality says:
Some people are just not that excited about hearing choirs singing the hymn "Praise to the Man (JS)" or "If I could hie to Kolob." on a Sunday morning.
March 8, 2012, 3:16 pm
Stevie B from UTAH says:
It's fun to watch these eruptions around the country as an LDS congregation grows and needs more space. Each time the exact same comments are received from the "vocal opponents." Worry about the heighth of the spire and the total square footage, the street access and the traffic.

Then a few years later, the beautiful design of the inspiring building, with spacious, well-kept grounds and open space in the midst of clustered dwellings has actually increased the values in the neighborhood.

Here in the rural heartland of Mormondom, in my small town of 25,000 we have about 15 of these wonderful buildings to accomodate the members, and I have never heard the choir singing from outside the structure. I have enjoyed my early morning basketball for the last 30 years, however. Maybe the "vocal opponents" could become opponenets on the hardwood.
March 8, 2012, 4:33 pm
Anubis from landover says:
So lets see it zoned for home not church building and the Mormons are in an uproar because the opponents want them to stay within the confinds of the zoning law.

What happen to "obeying the laws of the land" or did the rules change when Monson took over?

I for one would not want a church building in my neighborhood let alone one that creates such eye sores as the McTemples and McWard buildings.
March 8, 2012, 5:06 pm
Christian from Flushing says:
The merits of a large church at this site aside, it is virtually unheard of for the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals to deny a developer, particularily in Flushing, the right to build something "out of character" with the neighborhood.
March 11, 2012, 9:45 am

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