September decision due on 26th Ave. synagogue

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While a Bayside congregation was still waiting this week for the city’s approval on its planned construction of a new synagogue, a Flushing church that has been building a new home in Little Neck has been borrowing space in which to hold services.

The construction plans of the Chabad of Northeast Queens in Bayside and Flushing’s EunHae Presbyterian Church, which is building a new church in Little Neck, have created controversy in their respective communities. Neighbors of both projects have voiced fears about increased traffic and parking problems that could result from the construction.

The city Board of Standards and Appeals has again delayed its decision on whether or not to approve the variance application of the Chabad House of Northeast Queens. The synagogue, which now owns a one-family home at the corner of 26th Avenue and 213th Street in Bayside, has been seeking permission to build a 9,000-square-foot, two-story facility on the property.

The plans sparked anger from nearby residents, who have denounced the proposed synagogue as too large for the neighborhood and fear extra traffic and a shortage of parking if the construction goes through.

At an Aug. 6 hearing at the city Board of Standards and Appeals, City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) also asked the BSA to send the Chabad’s application back to Community Board 11 for review.

“The application has gone through substantial corrections since it was initially filed,” said Avella, who called the original plans disapproved by CB 11 last fall a “false start.”

A spokesman for the BSA said any group involved in the approval process of a variance — which usually includes community boards, the borough president’s office and sometime local officials — was welcome to forward their comments on the case to the BSA, and that the agency stays in contact with all parties during the process.

“If anybody has comments, come ahead,” spokesman Pat Pacifico said of the Chabad application. There have been changes to the requested variances, Pacifico said, including the reduction of the size of the planned building.

Pacifico said a BSA decision was due Sept. 24. Rabbi Yossi Blesofsky said the synagogue had reduced the size of the proposed building.

“I’m confident that when it actually does (get approved by BSA) everyone will be happy,” Blesofsky said.

The Chabad of Northeast Queens purchased in 1999 the one-family home it now uses for services. The proposed synagogue, at 26-06 213th St., is to be officially named the Yankel Rosenbaum Center and was expected to include a kitchen, offices, classrooms, several bathrooms and a sanctuary with room for 140 people.

In Little Neck, the EunHae Presbyterian Church has been building a three-story, 20,000-square-foot house of worship on an odd-shaped lot at 249th Street, which borders commercial and residential areas.

The 249th Street project has been through a series of delays as the city Buildings Department stopped construction several times to address community concerns, including the height of the planned building and parking.

The church, which had a facility on Farrington Street in Flushing for a decade, has been renting space from another Korean congregation on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. The church chose to construct a new home in Little Neck because its Farrington Street lease ended in December.

The Rev. Seung Jae Ree said the borrowed space is tight and the church has been “losing money and losing members” as the transition between homes drags on.

Ree said the congregation still hopes to complete the Little Neck project by May 2003 and pointed out that the EunHae Presbyterian Church can only stay in its borrowed space until then.

The Korean congregation has been meeting with Avella and hopes to arrange a meeting with neighborhood leaders to discuss their concerns soon, Ree said.

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

Updated 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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