Village residents voice concerns over housing plan for shuttered church

A plan to convert the former Greenport United Methodist Church into residential lots met with opposition during a public hearing last Thursday night before the Greenport Village Planning Board.

Chris Dowling of First Street said he was disappointed that the village’s historic commission would “let somebody knock down a 1920s structure for personal gain.” The developer, James Olinkiewicz, plans to remove an addition that was built over nine decades ago.

Resident David Corwin, a member of the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, also expressed opposition to the plan and said there are a number of two-family homes in that area already. He and other speakers argued that Mr. Olinkiewicz should have to go before the ZBA for a variance to create new lots that don’t comply with zoning.

Village administrator Paul Pallas said existing lots that don’t conform to zoning are permitted to remain under the code. Creating new, non-conforming lots would need a ZBA variance, he said, adding that this application doesn’t attempt to create new lots that don’t comply with zoning.

Mr. Olinkiewicz originally sought to divide the property into four lots, but later decided to reduce it to three.

“I’ve told everybody, I can’t convert that church building to multifamily in my heart,” Mr. Olinkiewicz said, adding he wants to restore the original 1880s church sanctuary.

Mr. Olinkiewicz said he also plans to remove an addition from the building.

A one-family home is proposed for the parsonage building fronting First Street, he said. Mr. Olinkiewicz hasn’t decided if he’ll build a two-family home on the third lot.

Any building he plans to do must come back to the Planning Board, he said. The board took no action on this application.

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