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City stymies Flushing congregation’s new church

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There was one thing the city Buildings Department had to say to a Whitestone contractor and Staten Island architect building a Korean church on 249th Street in Little Neck this week: “Not so fast.”

The architect of the new Eunhae Presbyterian Church at 43-37 249th St. said Monday a July 3 meeting with the Buildings Department resulted in a slight alteration to the plans for the three-story, 20,000-square-foot building. The architect, Wallace Kubec, said Tuesday another meeting was scheduled with Buildings for July 24.

A spokeswoman for the Buildings Department said the stop work order issued by the agency to the contractor last month was still in effect this week pending additional efforts by the architect to address community concerns about the project.

Buildings Department spokeswoman Ilyse Fink said “the status hasn’t changed. There are still a lot of issues there.”

The Buildings Department stopped work on the new Eunhae Presbyterian Church at 43-37 249th St. last month after nearby residents and Community Board 11 raised concerns about the project, including the availability of parking for congregants and the height of the planned building. The church is now located at 33-37 Farrington St. in Flushing and plans to move into its new building in May 2002.

The property for the new house of worship is an oddly shaped lot sandwiched between residences and businesses on Northern Boulevard. The lot, which runs from 249th Street to Marathon Parkway, is adjacent to the Douglaston-Little Neck branch of the public library.

The architect, Wallace Kubec of Diffendale & Kubec Architects on Staten Island, said in a telephone interview Monday the plans were altered to shift a proposed 12-foot spire 18-feet to the south, putting it closer to the commercially zoned Northern Boulevard.

Kubec said he agreed to change the plans during a July 3 meeting with the Buildings Department.

“We’re going to move the tower 18 feet toward the library,” he said. “We needed to get it closer to the commercial zone.”

In letters to the Buildings Department, CB 11 Chairman Bernard Haber questioned the height of the proposed building with its spire — a total of 62.5 feet — saying it was the equivalent of a seven-story building. Haber also sought information on how the church would provide the required amount of parking for the project.

Eugene Chi, a contractor with Whitestone-based Kang Suk Construction, said the new house of worship was to be a 20,000-square-foot, three-floor facility. According to permit applications filed by Chi’s construction company with the Buildings Department, the church is to include 32 parking spaces, a kitchen, bathrooms, meeting rooms, offices, and a first-floor sanctuary with an occupancy of 564 people. The total occupancy of the building is listed as approximately 1,200.

More than 150 residents of 240th, 248th and 249th streets who signed a June 7 petition listed the availability of parking as well as traffic and safety concerns among their trepidations about the project.

Fink, the Buildings Department spokeswoman, said “the stop order is still in effect. They had not resolved outstanding issues and there were several.”

Meanwhile, at least one of the businesses neighboring the construction site insisted it had no plans to sell.

Salvatore Torrisi, longtime owner of Marathon Food at the corner of Marathon Parkway and Northern Boulevard, said false rumors had been flying about the sale of his store.

“It’s not being sold — it’s not for sale,” Torrisi said Monday.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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