No Churches in Residential Areas?
From Joong Ang
September 08, 2003
By SangGyo Jung
It will be tough for Korean churches to construct a building in
According to the Community Facility Zoning Proposal,
churches in residential zoning in New York City are required to
have at least
one parking spot for every 10 to 15 people.
This will regulate land
usage of churches in residential zones, adding to the existing
zoning, which requires parking spaces for “fixed
chairs” (long chairs in the chapel, not including one-person
chairs or unfixed ones).
New York City is aiming to solve conflicts
between churches and residents in the surrounding area by diverting
to commercial and industrial district where it is easier to find
The proposal will go through legislation needed for
approval and would become effective next spring at the latest.
Council of Korean Churches discussed the proposal with city officials
at Hyo Shin Bible Presbyterian of New York. The council
expressed their strong opposition to the proposal, pointing out
that the rules would mostly clearly affect Korean churches.
example, the proposal includes changed parking lot regulations:
Single-house districts (R1, R2, and R3) will need one slot per
10 people, and multi-house districts (R4, R5), one per 15. Churches
in apartment-complex residential areas (R6, R7) are exempted from
Although the proposal permits churches in R1-R5
districts to be built without parking lots if the building accommodates
94 people, it is very rare for Korean churches to serve congregations
At the conference, the New York City officials pointed
out the increasing number of complaints from residents in Bayside
which indicates the proposal has been targeting Korean churches
in that area.
Also, “Home Churches” or churches which
have been renovated from residential housing, would also be threatened.
A church minister
at the conference said that he had to close his “home church” in
Queens for two months after a neighbor complained during the service.
Another minister also spoke about difficulty continuing church
services because of neighbor complaints.
New York City Department
of City Planning has shown that it is willing to impose strong
regulations on illegal churches whenever
complaints are reported or a Board of Community recognizes it.
Church buildings have to be made of bricks for emergency occasions
such as fire, but most of these “home churches” are
not. According to a city official, most of them are from mixture
of wood and bricks. Churches with construction permits would not
be affected by the new proposal, but those who don't already have
permits would have difficulty accommodating parking lots.
president of the Council of Korean Churches, worries that under
the proposal's strict requirements on procedure and parking
slots, it would be almost impossible for Korean churches to build
in residential areas. For Korean churches and their congregations,
this could constitute a major crisis.
Kim and Lee, another minister
and council official, also visited City Hall to discuss the situation.
claimed that it is inappropriate to remove churches to industrial
districts. He added, “We will look for ways to confront this
challenge, such as cooperating with the Council of Churches of
the City of New York.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Translated from Korean by Joo Yeon Lee