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Babylon Town planning board delays decision on converting Wyandanch house into church

An official notice from the Town of Babylon's

An official notice from the Town of Babylon's Planning Board is posted on the property at 168 Long Island Avenue in Wyandanch Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Bishop Clarence Peters of the Church of God of Prophecy has applied to the planning board to create a house of worship at the location. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Babylon Town planning board has extended until March an application from church officials to take over a home in Wyandanch.

Bishop Clarence Peters of the Church of God of Prophecy has asked the planning board for permission to create a house of worship in a home on the corner of Long Island Avenue and South 26th Street. Peters has applied to construct a 643-square-foot addition onto the house, which is 799 square feet, and to convert a 366-square-foot detached garage into a food pantry.

The Church of God of Prophecy describes itself as a “Protestant, Evangelical, Wesleyan holiness, Pentecostal movement that believes in man’s free will regarding salvation.” It is headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, and has about a dozen locations on Long Island, according to its website.

At a public hearing last week, board members questioned the church’s architect, Harold Gebhard of Lindenhurst, about several aspects of the plans, among them use of seating in a balcony area. He said it was unclear whether there would be seats, but that they could be “temporary, on-demand” seating for some members. He said the plans already require a parking variance, falling several spaces short of town requirements.

The only resident at the hearing was Bobby Blassingame, who lives on South 26th Street. Blassingame pointed out that there is already an automotive repair shop on the other corner and that Long Island Avenue is a busy street with vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed.

“Long Island Avenue is very dangerous, it’s already congested and now you’re going to stick a church in there?” he said, citing numerous accidents.

Planning board chairman Lev Brickman said the town’s traffic safety division has signed off on the plans, although the board is awaiting additional comments from the division.

Gebhard said the church has twice set up locations in Wyandanch, only to have the town take the land by eminent domain as part of its Wyandanch Rising redevelopment. He said the church expects about 30 to 35 members at Sunday services but will have other events during the week as well.

The planning board reserved decision and extended the application period until March 7.

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