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Posted 20 Jun 2001   For week ended June 15, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 12Jun01

By Kent Larsen

White Plains Temple Presentation Attracts Opponents

HARRISON, NEW YORK -- A Town Board meeting yesterday attracted more than 80 neighbors of the LDS Church's proposed White Plains Temple as representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented plans for the use of the building. Most of the neighbors present opposed the building, fearing that it will increase traffic and claiming it is "out of scale" with the character of the neighborhood. Church representatives tried to assure the Board that the building is only used for special occasions and for rituals and has already been reduced in size to address neighbor's concerns.

The proposed Temple will sit on a 24-acre site near the intersection of I-287 and I-684 on the southwest corner of Kenilworth road and Westchester Avenue (which parallel's I-287), but will be set back from Kenilworth road, a residential street, and be screened from the neighbors by tall trees. Recognizing traffic problems on Kenilworth road, the LDS Church has proposed that traffic from the Temple be routed onto Westchester Avenue, but allows some traffic to exit onto Kenilworth Road, but only if headed north.

But neighbors object to any additional traffic on Kenilworth Road, and worry that Temple traffic will find the road regardless. They say that Kenilworth is already overburdened and has been the scene of many accidents, "Until you finish and correct the traffic problem now, how can you even think about adding one more car to Kenilworth Road?" says Bernard Rosenshein, who lives across the street from the Church's property and says he currently has trouble getting out of his driveway.

Other neighbors object to the building's size, saying that even the reduced height is too large for the neighborhood. "Why must it be a monstrosity?" said neighbor John Dearie. "What they want is a huge edifice. They want an outdoor advertising billboard and be damned what the impact is on the community." He suggests that the Church build a shorter building that covers more land area on the property.

A third objection comes from residents who have seen the LDS Temples in Washington DC and San Diego, California and who worry that the Temple lighting will affect the neighborhood. Michael Divney, a planner for the Church, told the Board that the outdoor lighting had been reduced significantly and would be turned off after 10:30 pm. But some residents still fear this will be too bright, "It's going to light up the night, and it's going to change the quality of life in the neighborhood," said resident Kim Goldsmith.

The Church is asking the Harrison Town Board for a "special exception" permit that covers how the Temple will be used. The permit is the final requirement necessary for the Temple, following the already-obtained approval of the Harrison Planning Board, and a still-in-dispute zoning variance from the Harrison Zoning Board of Appeals. When the Zoning Board of Appeals turned down the application, the Church went to acting state Supreme Court Justice Peter Leavitt, who overruled the board, ordering it to grant the variance. [In New York State, the Supreme Court is not the highest level in the court system. It is a trial court, and its decisions can be appealed to an appellate division, and then to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.] In April, the town filed an appeal of Leavitt's decision, which has not yet been heard.

According to Town Supervisor Ronald Bianchi, the Board will look at the record from the Harrison Planning Board and from the Harrison Zoning Board of Appeals before it reaches its decision. Bianchi said earlier that he had already reviewed those records, but had not yet reached an opinion on the application.


Neighbors pack meeting to oppose Mormon temple
Westchester co NY Journal News 12Jun01 D1
By David Novich: The Journal News See also:

Harrison NY Appeals Decision Favoring Temple

Harrison Temple Gets Judge's Blessing

Proposed White Plains Temple Loses Zoning Decision

White Plains New York Controversy Makes Local News

LDS Leaders Request Fast For New York Temple

White Plains Temple Opposition Intensifies


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