Author Topic: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue  (Read 6935 times)

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St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« on: June 16, 2011, 09:47:37 AM »
Controversial plan for church on Hackensack agenda tonight
Thursday, June 16, 2011    Last updated: Thursday June 16, 2011, 8:17 AM
BY MONSY ALVARADO
STAFF WRITER
The Record
HACKENSACK St. Gabriel's Syriac Orthodox Church outgrew its one-story building on Fairmount Avenue many years ago.


Parishioners outside St. Gabriel's Syriac Orthodox Church.

The congregation, with its 120 families, wants to build a larger house of worship a block south, on a site that is now home to St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation wants to raze the brick church building at the intersection of Grand and Ross avenues, which it bought in 2009, along with a two-story home, to make room for a 13,016-square-foot building, according to documents submitted to the city.

The new structure would consist of a sanctuary, a meeting room, and class space for Bible study and Sunday school, according to the plans. The proposal also includes a 37-space parking lot, but city ordinances require that the building have at least 168 spots. The Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear the application tonight.

"Churches are closing left and right, but we are trying to keep a church open, which is good for a community," said the Rev. Aziz Hadodo, pastor of the church, who said the plans have been scaled back since they were first submitted to the city.

But the proposal has already generated opposition from Ross Avenue residents who say they don't want a large church in their neighborhood and the increased traffic and on-street parking it will bring. The residents also argue that more cars could negatively affect some of the disabled adults and children, who use wheelchairs, living on the block.

"They need to build a compatible church like the one that is there," said Tom Carucci, who has lived on Ross Avenue for more than 40 years. "This one is too big of a building for this area."

Stefani Pedone, who lives on Ross Avenue across the street from the house that would be torn down, said the neighborhood already sees more traffic on weekends when recreational sports are played on a Grand Avenue field across from St. Mark's. Also, St. Mark's is used as a polling place.

"We have enough here," she said. "This is just not the right corner."

The objections are not new to members of St. Gabriel's, who also met similar resistance from residents in Haworth when it proposed erecting a church in that community several years ago.

In 2008, after five years of hearings and litigation, St. Gabriel's received permission to build a 5,900-square-foot building on 3.5 acres in Haworth. The approved project included a sanctuary, a multi-purpose room and 60 parking spaces.

Construction has not begun in Haworth and Aziz Akyom, president of the church's Board of Trustees, said the congregation is undecided on whether it should build a house of worship in Hackensack or Haworth.

St. Gabriel's has been in Hackensack since 1994. Back then it consisted of only 30 families, who wanted to attend service in Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke.

Most of the church's members are first-generation immigrants from southern Turkey.

Hadodo said church officials are willing to meet with Hackensack neighbors and listen to their concerns, and see whether they can agree on changes.

"It's their community, we want to be part of their community, and we will work with them," said Hadodo, a retired civil engineer who sits on the New Milford Board of Adjustment.

"We'll try our best and then leave it up to the Lord," Hadodo said. "Whatever happens, happens."

Unlike St. Gabriel, St. Mark's has seen a decline in it membership for more than a decade. In 2000, 30 members attended Sunday services, but now only 10 sit in the pews, said Piotr Pilch, the pastor.

"A lot of people either retired and moved further south," he said.

The small numbers, he said, could not support the upkeep of the large building which has been on the site since the '50s. For a few years, the church shared its space with a Korean congregation, Pilch said.

"The cost of living and cost of everything is going up and sometimes that was doable in the past, but it's no longer doable," he said.

Since St. Gabriel's bought the property, Pilch has been allowed to hold weekly Sunday service at the church.

St. Mark's doesn't pay rent, just the utility bills, Pilch said. He has been searching for a new home in Hackensack but has also encountered issues with parking.

The present property where St. Gabriel is located on Fairmount Avenue would be developed for multi-family use, if the church gets permission to build on the new site, according to documents.

E-mail: alvarado@northjersey.com
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 11:09:47 AM by Editor »



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Re: St. Gabriels Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2011, 11:09:22 AM »
I would really hope that St. Gabriel's can find a better location.
_________________________________
Church expansion bid explored by Hackensack board
Friday, June 24, 2011
BY MARK J. BONAMO
MANAGING EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

A June 16 Hackensack Zoning Board meeting examined the consequences of a local church's proposed expansion.

St. Gabriel's Syriac Orthodox Church leadership, located on Fairmount Avenue, proposed building a new church and meeting hall on the corner of Grand and Ross avenues. The site is currently occupied by St. Mark's Lutheran Church.

According to city officials, the new church, located on a 1-acre site with the addresses of 80 Grand Ave. and 90 Ross Ave., would be approximately 4,900 square feet, and the meeting hall would be 7,900 square feet. Five classrooms are also proposed.

One of the major issues surrounding the project is the question of adequate parking for the proposed church. City building ordinances require a total of 370 parking spaces, a number mandated by the size of the structure. The church's proposal, however, calls for approximately 40 spaces.

At the beginning of testimony about the project, Stuart Liebman, a Paramus attorney representing St. Gabriel's, questioned project architect Anthony Iovino about the basis of the mandated number of parking spaces.

The current city ordinance bases parking spaces on the seating capacity of proposed structures. There is a projected seating capacity of 282 spaces in the church, and 288 spaces in the meeting hall.

"Does it make sense in your opinion to require one parking space which equals one car per seat?" asked Liebman.

"No, it doesn't," said Iovino.

Liebman referred to an earlier Hackensack parking regulation requiring one parking space per three seats, a model that Iovino said would require 94 parking spaces for the new complex, and that the architect viewed as "more correct."

Liebman and Iovino pointed out that the St. Mark's church complex now requires 216 parking spaces based on local ordinances, although 20 spaces are now in place on the site.

Several city residents argued, however, that no matter what municipal ordinances might state, the proposed new church would diminish the quality of life surrounding the neighborhood.

"This structure in no way adheres to what's there now," said Milly Salerno, who lives on Ross Avenue near the project site. "It sticks out like a sore thumb. I think it will have a very negative impact on my street, just in terms of the traffic. If you don't have enough parking, where do you think they are going to park? They are going to be on our streets. They are going to be in my driveway."

Stefani Pedone, Salerno's neighbor, asked St. Gabriel's architect and attorney a direct question.

"Would you want this structure built on your corner?" said Pedone. "I don't think you took into consideration the people who live on that street. We have five handicapped children. The overflow of the traffic comes onto our street."

"We are all faith-based people. This is not about putting up a church that we don't want," added Pedone. "The little country church that's there now fits into our neighborhood. That's why we bought our houses on that street. It's a quiet little neighborhood."

The Zoning Board's next meeting is currently scheduled for July 21.

Email: bonamo@northjersey.com


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Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2011, 09:46:18 AM »
Postponement of Hackensack church building hearing frustrates neighbors
Last updated: Friday September 2, 2011, 1:21 AM
BY MARK J. BONAMO
MANAGING EDITOR
Hackensack Chronicle

Residents of the neighborhood surrounding the site of a local church's proposed expansion will have to wait a bit longer to see if the project will go through.

The Hackensack Zoning Board approved an adjournment of further discussion surrounding the attempt by St. Gabriel's Syriac Orthodox Church to build a new church and meeting hall during the board's Aug. 18 meeting.

According to Richard Malagiere, the Zoning Board attorney, the adjournment, a common procedure, was granted to Stuart Liebman, a Paramus attorney representing St. Gabriel's, upon his request.

Milly Salerno, a Ross Avenue resident who lives across the street and two houses away from the proposed church site, expressed disappointment that further discussion of the project's fate was postponed.

"We want this application to be denied. It's frustrating," said Salerno. "We are not looking forward to the parking and traffic nightmare that will ensue when they put this large structure on the corner of our residential streets. They don't have sufficient parking there."

The debate over the proposed project began when the church's leadership, located on Fairmount Avenue, proposed building a new church and meeting hall on the corner of Grand and Ross avenues. The site is currently occupied by St. Mark's Lutheran Church.

According to city officials, the new church, located on a 1-acre site with the addresses of 80 Grand Ave. and 90 Ross Ave., would be approximately 4,900 square feet, and the meeting hall would be 7,900 square feet. Five classrooms are also proposed.

One of the major issues surrounding the project is the question of adequate parking. City building ordinances require a total of 370 parking spaces, a number mandated by the size of the structure. The church's proposal, however, calls for approximately 40 spaces.

For Stefani Pedone, Salerno's neighbor, the primary concern is her neighborhood's quality of life.

"This is a quiet, residential neighborhood. That's why we bought our homes here. The changes around here over the last 20 years have been gradual," said Pedone. "This would be massive. There are five special-needs people on our block. This church isn't just a little local parish any more. It's just not the right place."

Salerno and Pedone both emphasized that they have no problem with the project's religious nature, but with how the new church would fit into the existing neighborhood.

"We would not want any structure of that size there," said Salerno. "It will stick out like a sore thumb."

"We are church-based people," added Pedone. "But if my priest said that we are going to build this big, huge structure right across the street from you, I would say no."

The Zoning Board's next meeting is currently scheduled for Sept. 21.

Email: bonamo@northjersey.com

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Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2011, 08:36:13 AM »
Church pulls out of plan to build new home
Thursday, October 20, 2011
BY MONSY ALVARADO
STAFF WRITER
The Record

HACKENSACK A proposal to knock down St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church on Ross Avenue to make room for a larger house of worship will be withdrawn, a lawyer said this week.

St. Gabriel's Syriac Orthodox Church, which was seeking site plan approvals from the Board of Adjustment, plans to sell the property to another church, said lawyer Benjamin Isik, who represents the Orthodox church.

"St. Gabriel's expects to enter into a contract agreement and expects to withdraw its application," Isik said, noting that the transaction will probably take two to three months.

Isik, who declined to name the buyer, said St. Gabriel's church leaders have yet to decide what they will do to accommodate their 120-family congregation. The church also owns property in Haworth, where it already has approvals to build a church.

"It's all up in the air now," Isik said. "Some are saying to build in Haworth, and others are saying to look for other properties."

The Rev. Ray Germoso, senior pastor of La Iglesia Casa del Alfarero Asambleas de Dios, said Wednesday that his church will be buying the property from St. Gabriel's, and that he hopes to move into St. Mark's in a month or two. He said there are no plans to make additions to the brick building. The church serves 85 to 100 people representing 26 different nationalities, he said.

"This is just great for us. We are not that big,'' said Germoso, who is a chaplain at the Bergen County Jail.

Germoso said the church has shared space with several churches in Hackensack and one in Hasbrouck Heights since it opened in 1992.

"I have to give credit to the people in my church. They never gave up,'' Germoso said, noting that his church had wanted to buy the building for years.

Hackensack residents who had objected to the enlargement expressed relief on Wednesday.

"Hallelujah," said Stefani Pedone, who lives on Ross Avenue and who has attended every meeting where the church was scheduled to be heard.

Pedone, who has a disabled daughter, said she feared that the increased traffic would negatively affect several families with disabled family members. She said she hopes that any group moving into the building will take neighbors' feelings into consideration.

"No matter who buys the church, it has to fit into the plan of this area," Pedone said. "We have to wait and see what happens with the next set of people. It was never about the church. It was the size of the church and what they wanted to do with this block."

St. Gabriel's holds service in a smaller building on Fairmount Avenue and has spent years trying to erect a larger sanctuary.

It planned to raze St. Mark's, which it bought in 2009, along with a two-story home, and construct a 13,016-square-foot building, according to documents submitted to the city.

The Board of Adjustment was scheduled to continue hearing the application tonight after several adjournments.

St. Gabriel's has been in Hackensack since 1994. Back then, it consisted of only 30 families, who wanted to attend service in Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke.

The majority of the church's members are first-generation immigrants from southern Turkey.

E-mail: alvarado@northjersey.com

Offline just watching

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Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2011, 09:21:17 PM »
I don't see any gain here at all.  Keeping the Christian Turks would have added needed diversity to a city that is otherwise changing in one singular direction. And a new church building would be better than the tired old building.

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Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2011, 08:29:00 AM »
And let me add, the key word is DISINVESTMENT.  There are two potential congregations that could have this property. Hackensack and the neighbors are siding with the one that has no money to build a new church.  Oh, that's real smart.

So not only is Hackensack losing it's ONLY Christian Orthodox church, we are effectively driving out of Hackensack an incoming immigrant group that is upwardly mobile and financially solid.  There's no shortage of Orthodox Christians looking to flee the oppression from the Muslim majority in places like Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon.  And you know what, this country is made up of people fleeing oppression from various places. We should open our arms to these people, instead of driving them out of Hackensack.  Our loss in many ways, not just the loss of diversity.

Offline averagejoe

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Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2011, 09:22:48 AM »
Since you do not live here anymore,it is easy for you to be judgmental.Do you  have ANY idea as to how massive this rebuild was going to be? What these folks do to traffic safety on Sundays NOW is life- threatening.With an even greater parking shortage,I could only imagine.I dont think land use is supposed to be based on YOUR socialogical analyses.That got you in trouble before,did it not?

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Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2011, 10:21:02 AM »
If I've understood correctly, it seems you're saying that an upwardly mobile and financially solid group attending religious services in Hackensack provides some inherent benefit to the city? I think this holds true for any religious organization, which is why they are generally exempt from property taxes.

For Hackensack to really benefit from this upwardly mobile and financially solid group, they would need to actually be part of the local community. I don't think that's the case. I've lived near the church for the past 3 years. It certainly gets crowded on Sundays, but not much seems to go on the other days. I've never seen any kind of community outreach. They just come and go, which is why I don't think their particular presence would be missed. Any religious group would do just fine there.

Now if you tell me that this particular group resides in Hackensack, continues to grow in Hackensack because of this church, and now we may lose this population as residents, then I would agree with you.

Offline just watching

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Re: St. Gabriel's Church, Grand Avenue
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2011, 11:13:26 AM »

Books have been written about the phenomena that you are talking about, meaning immigrants not wanting to participate in community affairs. What you are saying has been observed for all new immigrant groups coming into any community, they tend to stick to themselves. And Hasidic Jewish are like that forever, it doesn't matter how many generations they are here. Other than a few exceptions like that, most groups take a while to set down roots, and then get involved in community affairs. That doesn't make them less desirable than another group already established.

For instance, this was true for Latino's decades back.  I can recall political leaders in the 80's saying that latino's were 12% or 15% of the city population, but probably only 1% or 2% of the actual voters because (a) many weren't citizens, (b) many weren't registered to vote even if they were citizens, and (c) Most of those citizens who were registered to vote were renters, not homeowners, and possibly concerned with national issues but assumed to be unconcerned with local politics. So Latino's didn't count at all in the political scheme of things, and that was very unjust at that time. Their voice was non-existant and their representation from white and black politicians was an afterthought, at best.  But now Latino's are actively involved in a lot of city affairs in Hackensack, including school board, politics, and most or all of the city boards.  Special thanks to the early Latino leaders, people like Jesus Galvis, for blazing the trail.

And as far as the rest of us Americans, far fewer people are involved in community affairs now than in other historic periods. Society is evolving towards the mass-selfishness of everyone, and the only moral value is supposedly the right of each person to live their life, do their thing, and not have their independence infringed upon by the intrusive spiritual ideas of religious teachers. Now my post is evolving into a commentary on society. but so be it.