Church plan draws controversy

By PHIL NOBILE

A rendering of the Trinity Presbyterian Church shows a proposed 19,200-square-foot expansion to the existing church’s property off of Anderson Hill Road in Purchase. Photo courtesy Trinity Presbyterian Church

A rendering of the Trinity Presbyterian Church shows a proposed 19,200-square-foot expansion to the existing church’s property off of Anderson Hill Road in Purchase. Photo courtesy Trinity Presbyterian Church

As a local church plans to change its temporary temple into a permanent home, citizens from the abutting neighborhoods voiced concerns about the potential project due to expansions and additions planned.

After 17 years of holding services in rented space at the School of the Holy Child while looking for an established home, the Trinity Presbyterian Church has decided to make its residency in the area permanent after significant expansions to a nearby property on Anderson Hill Road.

A proposal for a special exception use permit for the lots between 526 and 530 Anderson Hill Road was proposed at the town’s last Planning Board meeting. The proposal was met with some opposition from an abutting neighborhood. Photo/Phil Nobile

A proposal for a special exception use permit for the lots between 526 and 530 Anderson Hill Road was proposed at the town’s last Planning Board meeting. The proposal was met with some opposition from an abutting neighborhood. Photo/Phil Nobile

“We’ve explored a myriad of options and locations in the Sound Shore area but none have proven suitable,” Craig Chapman, senior associate pastor at Trinity, said. “We finally concluded that building our own church is the best option.”

Expanding on a 6.5-acre site, the church will use an original 6,800-square-foot Tudor home and construct a 19,200-square-foot addition. The new addition will replicate the older portion of the property and home in style and feel, according to renderings for the project.

“By adaptively reusing an existing home and designing a new addition in keeping with the architectural style of the residence, we are able to create a plan that accommodates our needs while minimizing new development,” Chapman said. “Our plan is to maintain that facility and to improve it, to keep it in character with the neighborhood.”

Less than 5 percent of the property’s acreage will be occupied by the addition, according to the church, and a new driveway will be built to the east of the property along with 130 parking spaces.

It is a potential increase in Anderson Hill Road traffic that has some local residents concerned.

Some residents from Morn-ingside at Purchase, a private neighborhood across from the planned Trinity church site, voiced their opposition at the town’s Jan. 28 Planning Board meeting, citing traffic increasing as a possibility, according to Trinity Presbyterian spoke-sperson Geoff Thompson.

“[Rev. Chapman] did a personal outreach to the residents of Morningside as well as our other adjacent neighbors,” Thompson said. “We’re very conscious of the community that we will be in and understand it’s very much a part of the public approval process.”

The church says that traffic will not be affected, citing that only during Sunday services do an average of 200 parishioners go to Trinity Presbyterian; during the week, the property would be used “lightly.”

“We were not surprised to hear the concerns raised,” Thompson said. “It will be one of the major elements of the environmental studies we will be doing. We are confident we can address the traffic issues satisfactorily. We will demonstrate it to the board and hopefully to the satisfaction of the neighbors.”

More than a decade ago, the church purchased a lot at 530 Anderson Hill Road. After realizing the space wasn’t sufficient to their needs, the church attempted to sell the property over the years. It wasn’t until last year when the adjacent 526 Anderson Hill Road Tudor home went up for sale that they decided to invest in both the lots and envision a facility of their own.

According to Thompson, the church will await all vocal and written concerns from the community and the planning board, and proceed to put together an environmental impact study, traffic study and other research needed within the coming months.

When asked for comment, Planning Board Chairman Thomas Heaslip declined. The next board meeting is Feb. 25.

Contact: phil@hometwn.com