New church sparks controversy in Queens

April 28, 2009 3:50:27 PM PDT
A new church is under construction in Queens, and its congregants are excited to have their own place to worship.But people living nearby say "not in our neighborhood."

Now, there is a battle over construction at 210th Street and 27th Avenue in Bayside.

The quiet residential enclave is the kind of neighborhood, even in the city, where you often hear the wind blowing through the trees as you gaze out at tidy green lawns.

But residents contend construction of a new church in their midst is a threat to that tranquility.

"It just doesn't seem the right spot to be building something like this," resident Marilyn Isernia said.

The Jesus Covenant Church is putting up a new building at the corner of 27th Avenue and 210th Street on the former site of a single-family home. Neighbors say they fear it will mean increased traffic, reduced parking and lowered property values.

"We all signed a petition," neighbor Rose Ann Caliguire said. "We gave money to help the lawyer, but it looks like we're not getting anywhere."

A church representative told Eyewitness News that the building will meet all local zoning guidelines. He also said he believes the opposition is because many residents don't want a Korean church in the community.

"That's absolutely incorrect," said Jerry Iannece, chair of Community Board 11.

Iannece insists the resistance to the church is not about religion, race or color.

"They're out of character with the community," he said. "There are all one-family homes here. What they're building is a facility with almost no parking at all for 65 to 100 people. And it's just inappropriate.

Homeowners say they'll continue to fight the construction, focusing on zoning and some mortgage inconsistencies, while the church says its building will be ready for services in four months.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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