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Church bows out of landmark designation

Undated photo of The Community United Methodist Church

Undated photo of The Community United Methodist Church of East Norwich. Photo Credit: Handout

One of two applications for landmark status that were scheduled to be heard by the Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission at a meeting later this month has been withdrawn.

The East Norwich Civic Association has withdrawn its nomination for the the Community United Methodist Church in East Norwich. But the group is pushing ahead with its nomination for the former Maine Maid Inn in Jericho.

“The church just doesn’t want to move forward with it at this time,” said association president Matthew Meng. “Without the church’s approval, it’s not going to go anywhere. To maintain harmony, the civic association felt it would be appropriate to withdraw the application until such time that the church is ready to embrace landmarking.”

At an initial hearing on the application last month, church officials opposed landmark designation for the 1901 structure. The church has an agreement with Verizon for installation of a cellular antenna in the steeple. The application was rejected by the town several months ago and Verizon is pursuing the permit through the courts. Church leaders fear landmark status could block the project.

“It was a good outcome,” said Kathy Nastri, head of the church trustees. “Both sides have really gotten together and tried to find some common ground. It’s really not the right time for us,” she said, adding that church leaders remain interested in making sure the church is preserved for the future.

“The Maine Maid Inn is very different than the church,” Meng said. “The landlord is in a foreclosure process and there’s significantly more history than the church has. And the church right now is not in danger as the Maine Maid Inn is.”

The now vacant inn, built in 1789, is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Aug. 24 meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Town Board Hearing Room at 54 Audrey Ave. in Oyster Bay.

Photo: An undated photo of the Community United Methodist Church of East Norwich.

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