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Queens Chronicle

CB 2 committee votes against megachurch

Area civic group lauds the move, calls on full board to do the same

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Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2017 10:30 am

Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee unanimously voted last Wednesday against the highly controversial planned construction of a new, larger Universal Church of the Kingdom of God on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside.

CB 2 was previously scheduled to vote on the project at its monthly meeting earlier in January, but sent the project back to its Land Use Committee for additional discussion about the design, including issues surrounding parking and noise mitigation.

“The megachurch developers have repeatedly failed to make the case as to why the community should support their request for special rights and permission to build this community-killing project that violates the existing zoning code for the land,” the Coalition to Defend Woodside & Little Manila said in a statement celebrating the committee’s vote.

On Feb. 2, CB 2 will hear a report from the committee about its decision and hold the full board vote on the church’s application.

Universal Church wants to tear down its existing worship center at 68-03 Roosevelt Ave. and build a new one more than twice the height. The structure would include a worship space that could fit almost 1,000 people, as well as 10 rectory units to house visiting religious leaders.

The church needs a variance from the city because the proposed structure exceeds zoning height restrictions.

The plan has drawn vocal opposition from some residents and businesses who say it would have a negative impact on Roosevelt Avenue and the surrounding community.

Some say the large building wouldn’t fit in with the neighborhood.

Others have also questioned the international church’s checkered past. Authorities in Brazil, where Universal Church is headquartered, have investigated its leadership multiple times for money laundering.

In New York, a church treasurer was indicted in 2011 after she allegedly lied to the state Attorney General’s Office and judges about how she secured $22 million in mortgage loans for the church in Woodside and another in Brooklyn.

CB 2’s Feb. 2 meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-31 39 St. The board’s vote is only advisory.

The project will then come before Borough President Melinda Katz, with the City Council taking it up after Katz.

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