By Kent Larsen
Environmentalists Gain Support from Harrison NY Temple Dispute
PURCHASE, NEW YORK -- A nearly dormant group of environmentalists have
gained new steam because of the dispute over the proposed Harrison New York
Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The
privately-funded Purchase Environmental Protection Association, first formed
88 years ago, now has its first paid employee and about 100 members. The
group says it will look at the Church's planned Temple.
"We are definitely concerned about the Mormon temple," said Executive
Director Anne J. Gold, until recently community relations director for
Purchase-based Manhattanville College. "We're trying to bring ourselves up
to steam on the issue." The group also plans to look at air pollution and
noise pollution from highways and Westchester County Airport, as part of its
effort to 'defend the community's rural character.'
"Development is a major concern of almost every small community in America,"
says lifelong resident John Loeb, 71, a member of the group. "If we don't
carefully plan for the future of Harrison, the result could be disastrous
for our neighborhood." The neighborhood of Purchase, home to both
Manhattanville College and the State University of New York's Purchase
College is located and is within the boundaries of Harrison, north of the
site of the proposed Temple. Harrison is a northern suburb of New York City.
The Purchase Environmental Protection Association (PEPA) is now based at
Manhattanville College, in spite of the fact that it battled the college's
48-unit apartment complex for faculty members in 1990, eventually loosing a
trial in the state Supreme Court in 1991. But neither PEPA nor the college
are holding a grudge over the issue, and the college says it is supporting
PEPA to set a social and ethically responsible example for students.
The group's position adds to the opposition to the Harrison Temple, already
facing stiff objections from neighbors over the traffic they think that the
building will bring, the height of the spire and lighting of the building,
which they say will block their view and light their yards at night, and the
fact that the building won't be open to non-Mormons, but is meant for the
use of members in the region, not the neighborhood.
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.
Land concerns spur revival of Purchase environmental group
Westchester co NY Journal News 19Aug01 D1
By Karen Pasternack: Journal News
Town Meeting Highlights Neighbor Feelings Over Harrison Temple
White Plains Temple Presentation Attracts Opponents
LDS Church Proceeds With Final Steps for White Plains NY Temple
Harrison NY Appeals Decision Favoring Temple
NEWSFLASH: 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
Mormon News' Coverage of Zoning Challenges to LDS Building Projects