The Salvation Army wants to build a new chapel and community center on the former site of Frank’s Chevrolet on Wildey Street, but the Sleepy Hollow Zoning Board of Appeals first has to agree that half the number of parking spaces required by law is sufficient for the new facility.
“This is a significant variance,” said Sleepy Hollow Zoning Board Chair Peter Koffler. “You are short 40 spaces.”
Since 1959, The Salvation Army has been headquartered at 115 Wildey Street in Tarrytown. Now the organization plans to build a 15,000-square-foot facility on the Frank’s Chevrolet site in Sleepy Hollow. Its existing building, constructed in 1954, will be demolished. Plans call for 41 parking spaces, which exceed the need, according to William S. Null, a land-use attorney representing the Salvation Army.
“Most of the people who attend church at the Salvation Army walk from the neighborhood,” said Null during a meeting of the zoning board last month. He cited one Sunday when the church was full, but only four cars were in the parking lot.
Null went on to explain that because the chapel and adjoining multipurpose room will never be in use simultaneously, the facility should not be required to provide 80 parking spaces as dictated by the building’s total square footage.
“I am hesitant to accept that rationale,” said Koffler. “How does one ever know when things may change?”
Null said many municipalities have granted variances to religious organizations based on this concept, citing Calvary Baptist Church in White Plains as one example.
Koffler asked for more time to consider the precedents cited. The issue will be revisited at the November Zoning Board meeting.