By Kent Larsen
After Early Opposition, North Yarmouth Maine Will Get LDS Chapel
NORTH YARMOUTH, MAINE -- In spite of some early resistance from neighbors,
the North Yarmouth branch will get a new 13,000-square-foot chapel in the
next year or so. Local and state government bodies approved the Church's
plans last month, after they were modified to meet neighbor's concerns.
Construction should begin in August, "We hope to be in within a year," said
long-time branch member Jean Bibber. "It will be almost 10 years since we
formed the [branch]."
The building will include 15 classrooms and a nearly full-sized basketball
court in addition to the chapel. Like many LDS buildings, it includes
moveable walls, allowing the building to be used for multiple events. An
article about the building in the Portland Press Herald said that LDS
buildings are different from other church buildings, "Because the building
houses so many functions, it's larger than many churches." But Bibber says
the size of the building seems normal to Mormons, "To those of us who belong
to the church, it doesn't seem huge because we use every bit of it."
Initially, the proposed building was met with opposition from neighbors, who
asked for the building to be set back further from the road, that tree
buffers between the building and neighbors be put in and that shorter lamp
posts be used in the parking lots. Neighbors had complained that the Church
was putting the building in their neighborhood when no church members lived
there, "They are going to build this giant facility that is not for anybody
in our community, and plunk it down in the middle of our community," said
neighbor John Williams at the time of zoning hearings for the building, "It
doesn't seem right."
Neighbors have denied all along that religion has anything to do with their
concerns. A next-door neighbor, Gary Mitchell, says, "My sense was that
people were concerned with the character of the neighborhood," said Gary
Mitchell, a next-door neighbor. "I didn't get the sense that anyone was
anti-Mormon ... I think they'll be perfectly good neighbors. That was never
Now that the neighbors have been satisfied and the necessary approvals
obtained, branch members are looking forward to the new building, "I'm
ecstatic," said Bibber. "It will be really nice to have a place. It was
really an answer to prayer."
Mormons' home nearer to reality
Portland ME Press Herald 23Jun01 D1
By John Richardson: Portland Press Herald Writer
Maine Branch Faces Zoning Controversy