Flushing fighting colossal church

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Dozens of local leaders and incensed neighbors protested the building of a proposed “massive” religious facility at 145-15 33rd Avenue.THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
Dozens of local leaders and incensed neighbors protested the building of a proposed “massive” religious facility at 145-15 33rd Avenue.

Dozens of local leaders and incensed neighbors are striking down one Flushing church’s plan of building up to the heavens.

Senator Tony Avella led a protest on March 8, rallying against the building of a proposed “enormous and out-of-scale” religious facility at 145-15 33rd Avenue.

“You’d have a giant in the land of ordinary people,” said Tyler Cassell, president of the North Flushing Civic Association and member of Community Board 7.

Officials said there is currently an application before the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) that could potentially allow developer — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — to combine three vacant lots, building a site twice as large as is allowed by law. The proposed facility would be 23,097 square feet when only about 12,200 is allowed, officials said.

“This application is absurd and should not even be considered by the BSA,” Avella said.

The proposal was overwhelmingly opposed by Community Board 7, as well as Borough President Helen Marshall.

Still, if the application variance is granted by the BSA, a 50-foot tall chapel with a 94-foot steeple would be built in the low-density neighborhood predominantly comprised of single-family homes. Officials said the church would be 15 times the size of a single house on the street.

“The church is trying to build a monstrous facility in an area where it will be completely out of context with the rest of the neighborhood,” said Avella, adding that the church could appropriately build a facility of the proposed magnitude in Downtown Flushing — where zoning laws would not restrict it — or expand at its current location on Sanford Avenue.

“For a church to be this inconsiderate is beyond me. They’re not being a good neighbor by building here,” said Avella, who was chair of the zoning subcommittee when he said he fought to rezone the area to eliminate over-building.

The BSA has not yet scheduled a public hearing on the issue, although the proposal is slated to go before the board in April.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not return calls for comment.

“If this building receives its variances and is allowed to proceed, it will make a mockery of the community facility reforms that took place city wide in 2004 and will set a terrible precedent,” said lifelong area resident Paul Graziano, who also co-designed the North Flushing Rezoning. “Should this be passed by the BSA, suburban-like neighborhoods can expect outrageously large and out-of-context religious community facilities in the near future.”