Weekly Feature



2013-01-16 / Front Page

Kingdom Hall moves forward amid neighbors’ concerns

Shimerville and Roll roads
by STEVEN JAGORD
Editor


This artist’s rendering shows what the 4,000-square-foot Kingdom Hall proposed by Jehovah’s Witnesses will look like at the northeast corner of Roll and Shimerville roads. This artist’s rendering shows what the 4,000-square-foot Kingdom Hall proposed by Jehovah’s Witnesses will look like at the northeast corner of Roll and Shimerville roads. A proposed 4,000-square-foot Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall at the northeast corner of Shimerville and Roll roads received pre-concept approval during the town’s Planning Board meeting on Jan. 9, but not before neighboring residents had an opportunity to state their reservations about the project.

(See editorial on page four)

Complaints about lighting, noise, traffic and parking were aired before the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the denomination’s team of legal and architectural experts.

“When we bought our house, I never envisioned living across from a parking lot,” said Shimerville Road resident Colleen Goodwin. “My primary concern is if the parking spaces have cars facing our house, then headlights may be shining in our windows.”

Other residents said traffic is already too congested in the area, and the additional 60 to 70 people at a time in the building will only worsen conditions.

Neighbors were only recently notified of the pending construction of the building after a mailer from the town informed them about a week prior to the Planning Board meeting, but at least a dozen came out from the sparsely populated area in protest.

Landscape architect Ross Harbison says he is aware of the concerns and insists that the Jehovah’s Witnesses will work to address any issues with homeowners surrounding the property.

“Our basic statement is that there were concerns, which were typical and understandable, such as drainage and lighting,” Harbison said. “We want to be good neighbors, and we look forward to working with [residents] to address those concerns.”

Goodwin said she thought the representatives for the Jehovah’s Witnesses sounded sincere and like they would work with the nearby property owners to alleviate any problems. She also doesn’t mind the building itself, which she thinks looks residential.

“I think it’s appealing, especially from a new building standpoint,” she said. “But the concern is we all knew that [the zoning] was a residential single family; nobody knew that if a church wanted to build there that it could.”

“We thought it would be residential.”

Clarence zoning laws allow for the construction of a worship center in single-family residential zones, as long as the buildings are less than 10,000 square feet.

The town will now undertake a coordinated review and notify all involved agencies, such as the Highway Department, to solicit feedback regarding the project. The reviews have a 30-day turnaround.

Harbison hopes that if the review is positive, the Kingdom Hall can break ground sometime this spring.

The next Planning Board meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 1 Town Place, Clarence.

email: sjagord@beenews.com

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