Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Mormons try to build big everywhere
From the Daily News:
A controversial plan to build a large Mormon church in Flushing will get a second hearing before a key city panel on Tuesday.
But a look at the church’s construction plans from around the nation shows that Queens isn’t the only place it is seeking permission to build up to the heavens.
Representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say it needs spacious buildings to accommodate its unique way worshipping, which include separate rooms for bible study groups divided by age and sex. Building them often requires permission from local zoning boards.
The Queens plan needs two variances from the city Board of Standards and Appeals.
“Everywhere they go, they refuse to abide by the rules that are set,” said Paul Graziano, an outspoken Flushing resident and an urban planner.
Church officials say there’s nothing untoward about asking for a variance in Flushing or elsewhere. “The church endeavors to obey the law,” said church spokesman Ahmad Corbitt. “Asking for variances is part of the law.”
Last year, the zoning board in Brookline, Mass., approved a variance to build a 33-foot high building with a 72-foot steeple, though some community members and lawmakers said that church was too big for the one-acre lot. A band of residents there even hired an attorney to fight the variance.
In one of the more well-known cases, in the late 1990s in Harrison, N.Y., the church sought to build an 89,000-square-foot building with a 159-foot spire. That plan, which faced years of resident opposition, was later abandoned when the church built its temple on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan, near Lincoln Center.
Published reports also describe land-use battles over temples proposed for residential neighborhoods in Phoenix, Ariz., Fort Collins, Colo., and in Kent, Wash.
In the Flushing application, which has been reduced in scope, the church argues that concerns over how the church will impact the neighborhood are not valid grounds to deny the application.