City should uphold zoning against Mormon church

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Several decades ago, when the City Charter was revised, the city Board of Standards and Appeals was created. The old city Board of Estimate was eliminated and a five-member BSA was created. The BSA hears appeals from concerned landowners if they believe the zoning resolutions passed by the City Planning Commission and the City Council are unfair.

All the BSA members, appointed by the mayor, seem to be doing is giving builders the right to build what they want in communities even if the zoning says no and the community opposes a project.

The BSA just went against the civic associations near 33rd Avenue in Flushing, Community Board 7 and the borough president to permit the building of a Mormon temple, where two one-family houses had stood. The church said it had to violate the R-2A zoning and build a gigantic temple because it needed more room.

People in Queens buy homes in a community because they want a nice neighborhood with tree-lined streets, lots of uncrowded space, nice-looking buildings and a nice quality of life. They do not want BSA to change the zoning of their community.

Do you know that there is a new charter commission holding hearings this summer? This is when many people are away and cannot give input into any changes that are proposed.

The Council Land Use Committee just voted to permit New York University to expand its campus in Greenwich Village. NYU had originally wanted to double the size of the school over 20 years. After lobbying by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, preservation groups and individuals, the plans were scaled down. A scaled-down plan was decided upon, but it will still mean spending $22 billion over a 20-year period with several large buildings being built.

Critics believe the massive construction project will disrupt the Village, change the character of the area and drive away faculty. NYU says it needs the new classrooms to fulfill its mission. This sounds like the argument of the Mormon church in Flushing. People in Queens are also concerned about expansion plans for Queens College and St. John’s University.

People are concerned that all these community facilities after being given the right to expand beyond what the original zoning permitted. There is concern that our quality of life will be compromised with bricks and cement, more people and cars and a loss of trees and greenspaces.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The city budget was finalized and the projected cuts in library services and Beacon programs and the closure of fire companies were prevented.

The same crisis occurred last year. These programs are needed by our citizens and should never have been threatened. Hopefully, our economy will improve and we do not have this problem next year.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The city is enforcing the non-watering rules with big fines. The lawn watering rules in the city are that one cannot water their lawns between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

This also means not hosing down of one’s driveway or sidewalk. If one waters during the day, the summer sun causes evaporation. This water usage also interferes with industrial or commercial water use, so follow the law and do not water during the day.

Updated 7:31 pm, July 26, 2012
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Reader feedback

Brian says:
The Mormon building is a meeting house, not a temple. Temples and meeting houses are different buildings both in scale and purpose. Temples vary in size, from grand to modest, but generally have expansive gardens and landscaping. Meeting houses are more traditional, but can be larger than temples, since they are used used as community centers. They generally have classrooms, a kitchen, and a cultural hall which doubles as a basketball court. This, in addition to the traditional chapel uses for Sunday services. Their landscaping is simple, and usually has parking when feasible. LDS meeting houses have been an integral part of neigbhorhoods across the country. They increase property values, and ensure a beautiful, tasteful church helps define a "tree lined neighborhood." It should be a welcome addition to any neighborhood.
July 26, 2012, 10:29 am
Paul says:
The church did not say anything about a "gigantic temple". Where did you get that from?
July 26, 2012, 11:07 am
Charlie says:
Bob obviously did not do much research into this story. If he did, he would have known the difference between a meetinghouse and a temple. To clarify, the church is building a meetinghouse.
July 26, 2012, 9:21 pm

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