Civic leaders from the Flushing and Bayside areas came together last Thursday at the site of a proposed church to voice their objections to its large size.
More than 30 people gathered at 145-15 33 Road to protest the plan to build a two-story structure with 55 underground parking spaces and a nine-story steeple that would loom over the mostly one-family houses in the neighborhood.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints needs a variance because the project is almost twice the size permitted. The proposed building would be 23,097 square feet, when only about 12,200 is allowed. The residents called on the Board of Standards and Appeals to deny the variance and enforce the zoning.
The rally was led by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who said that if the BSA allows the variance, he and others would sue to overturn the decision. As a city councilman, Avella was instrumental in the city downzoning the area three years ago.
“This is a very serious issue,” Avella said. “We worked hard to change the zoning, to keep low density and it’s very distressing to be here today.”
He noted that the church’s existing facility at 144-27 Sanford Ave. is in an area zoned R7-1 that would allow making that building 10 times bigger than what’s allowed at the proposed site. “Why are we even considering this” Avella asked.
Earlier this year, CB 7 voted unanimously against the plan and in February, Borough President Helen Marshall also vetoed it, saying it would be out of character and scale with the surrounding area. She also suggested church officials consider building a larger chapel at the present location.
But those denials can be overridden by the BSA. The proposal is expected to go before the board in April.