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Opposition to Port Jefferson Station church's planned sale of meeting house

A small church's proposal to rezone a Port Jefferson Station house it uses for meetings has drawn opposition from a social organization that is concerned about traffic and other issues at the site.

In a July 7 letter to Brookhaven Town Board members, the Polish American Independent Club of Port Jefferson Station asked the board to reject the application of Hope Ministries to change the zoning of its property on Route 112 from residential to business.

However, the town board on Tuesday unanimously approved the change of zone request. The nondenominational church wanted the change so the house can be sold as an office building, Frank Picarelli, the church's pastor, said Tuesday.

The Polish American club's letter listed a dozen concerns about the project, such as its location, parking, and pedestrian and traffic safety. "The reasons for this organization's opposition are numerous," the letter said.

Club officials did not return calls for comment.

Picarelli said the church, with about 25 members, has used the house for about a decade for Bible studies and youth group meetings. With the zoning change, the church plans to sell the house, as the only potential buyers wanted to use it as an office or medical building, he said.

"It's used right now as a house, and there are people going in and out all the time. It will probably be used less as an office building," Picarelli said. "There will be less traffic than there is now."

Picarelli said the rezoning plan calls for one of two driveways to be closed, reducing traffic. He said his church plans to hold meetings at his Mount Sinai home after the Port Jefferson Station location is sold.

"Now we've just kind of outgrown it and it's costing us a lot of money, so we want to try to sell it," Picarelli said. "We tried and people just don't want to live there."

Ed Garboski, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, said the church's plan would be "a nice renovation."

"It's a commercial area, so putting an office there isn't going to hurt anything. It's got plenty of parking," Garboski said. "I don't know why anyone would object to it, because it's not going to impede anything."

Picarelli said his church is not affiliated with Hope House Ministries, a Port Jefferson Station nonprofit operated by the Rev. Francis Pizzarelli that serves at-risk youth.

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