The JW's planned a double-hall near a dangerous curve in the road. The project was ill-conceived, and now they're publicly whining about not getting it approved anyway.
Obviously Jehovah did not bless their efforts to push for a Kingdom Hall on this site.
Jehovah's Witness halls rejected by P&Z AARON LEO [email protected] BRIDGEPORT — Felicia DeMartino, a city native and Jehovah's Witness, was happy to hear that she might be able to walk to services at a meeting hall proposed for 257-269 Huntington Turnpike.
But it could pose a traffic and pedestrian-safety nightmare, said City Councilman Richard Paoletto Jr., D-138, partly because it's a few blocks from the so-called "Dead Man's Curve."
That dangerous stretch of road is about 0.8 mile long and borders Beardsley Park. Evers Street is at the epicenter of the problem, between two curves and hills, and has been the site of 12 accidents over 10 years, he said.
Concerns by Paoletto and other neighbors won over the Planning and Zoning Commission, which unanimously denied the proposal this week.
Jeff Gordon, a former New Haven city planner and volunteer for a regional Jehovah's Witness building committee, proposed two halls connected with a canopy on the site. There would be 74 parking spaces to accommodate maximum seating of 296 people, or four people, per car, per parking space, he said.
But P&Z Chairwoman Patricia Fardy said safety concerns were overriding.
"There was no solution to the safety of people and cars," she said after the P&Z vote. "The whole site is unfortunate."
Gordon later said he disagrees with Fardy's assessment and plans to reapply.
He estimated that he, architects and planners have volunteered about $35,000 worth of work to prepare the design and application to be presented to the commission. The church has also acquired one of the two houses on the site and has a contract on the other, he said. Gordon works for Codespoti & Associates in Orange, designing and planning homes and developments.
Groups that worship in French, Spanish and American Sign Language would have met in the proposed hall, instead of going to sites in Monroe and Orange, he said. There is another Jehovah's Witness hall in Bridgeport on West Avenue near State Street.
Worshippers like DeMartino used to walk to a hall on William Street in Bridgeport as children, but the church outgrew the site and sold it, according to Gordon.
DeMartino was among 27 supporters of the application at the P&Z hearing.
About six people, including Paoletto and his colleague, Robert Curwen, both D-138, spoke against the proposal.
A neighbor, Adele Griffin, said walking is not an option in the area, saying it's difficult for cars to enter traffic from her driveway.
Curwen said he's not opposed to Jehovah's Witnesses, but was not pleased that the project would take more houses off the city's property tax rolls. Fifty-one percent of all property in Bridgeport is tax-exempt, he said.