CB 11 OKs church expansion

James Chin, a consultant representing the Korean Presbyterian Church of Bayside, explains alterations made to the building to Community Board 11 members. Photo by Howard Koplowitz
By Howard Koplowitz

Community Board 11 voted in favor of legalizing an addition to a Korean church in Bayside but disapproved of an application by the owners of the Getty Service Station at 204-12 Northern Blvd. to extend a variance that the station has not received since 2000.

James Chin, a consultant representing the Korean Presbyterian Church of Bayside, at 58-06 Springfield Blvd. in Bayside, said the church’s sanctuary is 35 feet — 10 more feet than what is allowed — and its gym had been vertically extended from 23 feet to 28 feet, which does not comply with building regulations for the addition.

“The problem is that the sanctuary needs a high ceiling,” Chin said.

The church, which started construction on the gym and sanctuary in 1997, also added a balcony to increase the building’s occupancy by 200 people.

Chin said the church was not aware it did not comply with zoning, adding that the building was self-certified and had been issued a construction permit by the city Department of Buildings.

The consultant said the church has the approval of the Bayside Senior Center.

Dennis Novick, chairman of CB 11’s Central/South Bayside Zoning Committee, said that since the church has a stable membership, has no plans to expand and has a large parking lot, his committee felt there was “absolutely no reason not to approve the application.”

CB 11 member Frank Skala said he believed the church should be knocked down because it is “illegal.”

“How can you plead ignorance?” Skala asked. “How can we allow them to get away with this one more time? It’s wrong. You follow the law altogether … and do it legally.”

CB 11 voted in favor of legalizing the addition to the church by a vote of 26-7 with three abstentions.

The board also denied to re-extend a variance for the Getty Service Station.

Eric Palatnik, an attorney representing the gas station, said the variance for the station expired in 2000, meaning it has operated without one for 11 years.

The station was seeking a 10-year variance to begin this year.

He noted that tanks used at the station were in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards in response to concerns from one of CB 11’s committees.

Bayside community activist Mandingo Tshaka, who lives near the gas station, called it an “illegal, toxic business.”

Tshaka complained of illegal trucks being parked on the site and said the zoning law was not being enforced.

“The [city Board of Standards and Appeals] defaulted in its obligation,” he said.

“I recommend that this application be denied,” Tshaka said. “It’s criminal.”

Christine Haider, chairwoman of CB 11’s East Flushing/North Bayside Zoning Committee, said the group was unanimously opposed to the service station’s application.

One CB 11 member said the BSA sent the station a letter in 2008 asking it to file an application within 60 days of the letter, but the station did not comply.

He also called for the application to be turned down.

CB 11 unanimously voted against the 10-year variance in a roll-call vote.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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