Long Island church sues charter school neighbor over student walk-thru

HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- A church in Hempstead is suing its charter school neighbor to prove the church owns the entire property behind it.

Faith Baptist Church in Hempstead filed a lawsuit against The Academy Charter School in July trying to assert its property rights for a small area behind the church which students use to get between the two academy buildings.

"The court has granted our temporary restraining order," said Ronald Rosenberg, the attorney representing the church in the easement lawsuit.

Students have been using the back parking lot of the church for years in order to walk between the school's two buildings.

Recently the church filed plans with the Hempstead Village Zoning Board for a senior apartment complex to replace the church.

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"Putting 230 apartments in the middle of two schools, I think it will put our lives in jeopardy," said Wayne Haughton, the Executive Director of The Academy Charter School.

Haughton said the school shares the walk-thru parcel of property with the church.

Rosenberg said the church has owned the property since 1949 and has allowed the students to use it as a walk-thru.

"We've always kept the paramount concern being the health, safety and welfare of the children. So any attempt to try to make it look like it's something else is not accurate," Rosenberg said.

Parents of students at The Academy Charter School said they are concerned at the scope of the project being proposed by the church.

"To have that type of traffic and that type of chaos with school children, it's a recipe for disaster," said parent Rholanda Basnight.

"By putting this building between two schools, we will jeopardize the safety of our kids," said parent Amise Dimanche.

Eyewitness News reached out to the Village of Hempstead about the proposed development plan.

"The Zoning Board of Appeals determines whether a variance will be granted to an applicant," Hempstead Mayor Don Ryan said. "We suspect that there will be support for and against the project when it is heard before the ZBA."

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