Weekly Feature



2013-01-16 / Editorials

Kingdom Hall can become asset to neighborhood

Bee Editorial

Jehovah’s Witnesses have introduced plans to construct a 4,000-square-foot Kingdom Hall in an area zoned for single-family residential use at the intersection of Shimerville and Roll roads.

Formally submitted plans to the town show a low-profile building that is expected to be hidden from plain view by heavy foliage and shrubbery. Parking for the venue will be camouflaged by the natural barrier as well.

While residents turned out at last week’s Planning Board meeting to get more information on the project, it also appeared that many were intent on not being persuaded that the building should be erected.

Members of the congregation heard concerns, and their landscape architect, Ross Harbison, was taking notes on each one. Many of the issues were easy to fix or defuse.

One woman expressed concern over not being able to see fireflies in her backyard or stars in the night sky. The plans call for two lampposts in the parking lot and some security lighting around the building — not the candlesticks you see at a baseball diamond. Furthermore, the Planning Board has reiterated that any lighting for the lot will have to use “dark sky” lighting, which means it will point directly to the ground, have minimal loss of light directed toward the sides or upward, and traditionally use lower wattage. In other words, unnoticeable.

Another concern was the traffic that has admittedly become heavy at the intersection of Shimerville and Roll. One resident stated that there are times where cars at the stop signs are backed up a dozen deep.

But the Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to have very regimented, reliable times where the building is in use by more than a few people — and none of those times affect regular business hours. Worship occurs on Sundays, and there are meetings at 7 p.m. on two weeknights. The rest of the time there will probably be only a few cars pulling in and out.

We realize this may not be the neighbor envisioned when people moved into the area, but again, who really knows their neighbors before they relocate? The Jehovah’s Witnesses are actively looking for people to continue raising concerns while planning goes on. We encourage you to do so beforehand so that when they do move in, their arrival will be celebrated and not bemoaned.

This is an opportunity for a faith group to spread its wings and branch further into the community. And wouldn’t you rather live next to a friendly neighbor who keeps the property well-maintained? These just might be the neighbors of which you always dreamed.

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