North Hills OKs Seventh-Day Adventist church expansion proposal

North Hills OKs Seventh-Day Adventist church expansion proposal
North Hills Village Hall. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The renovation proposal for the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists was approved by the Village of North Hills Board of Trustees Wednesday after a year-long battle to get approval amid pushback by neighbors.

The church, located at 7 Shelter Rock Road in Manhasset, proposed a series of changes to expand the building. Updates to the building include expanding the parking lot, the building’s setback, a new recording studio and other building expansions.

The proposal requested variances for the building’s height, distance to the property line, building and structure coverage, floor area ratio and required parking spaces.

The approval for the expansion comes just a year after the village first began its public hearings concerning the additions in February 2023.

“There was an extensive amount of public hearings, and those of any adjourning neighbors that have any kind of objection, we tried to accommodate them with screening and less parking,” North Hills Mayor Marvin Natiss said.

Natiss also said that the village reserves the right to make sure that the building complies with code requirements and that the construction does not bring in excessive traffic.

“It also clears up any prior nonconforming use that they [Seventh-Day Adventists] had at the location because they’ll now have to comply with the village code as part of this renovation,” Natiss said.

In a July hearing, Bruce Migatz, an attorney who represented neighbors of the church, said his clients were concerned about how the changes to the parking lot would impact their property.

In regards to the church’s plan to change the building’s setback line, attorney Michael Hopkins said that many of his clients were against the setback, which was initially planned to be reduced to 50 feet from the property line. A building setback line marks the minimum distance a house, building or other accessory structure must be from a property line.

“[It causes] an undue hardship on my property and has the potential of negative, long-term financial impact to my property’s future use and evaluation,” Hopkins said, reading a statement from the neighbors he represented.

Later in November 2023, attorney Kathleen Deegan Dickson representing the church said the proposal was adjusted to adhere to neighbor concerns about the new expansion bordering on their property.

Changes to the proposal included widening the access easement to 20 feet, moving the upper parking lot further from the property line, adjusting the rear landscaping and painting the building a neutral color.

Migatz said that his clients who initially opposed the proposal, came on board with the expansion after revisions to road expansion access were made.

“We thought, just to be a good neighbor, we would accommodate,” Deegan Dickson said. “It’s been an iterative process. I think it’s been very fruitful for all involved.”

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