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US town stops Syro-Malankara Church plan 

Clarkstown: A town in the United States has bought land on a rural stretch to stop a controversial plan to build a Syro-Malabar church.

Clarkstown, a town on the eastern border of Rockland County, New York, has spent $235,000 to buy the land in Valley Cottage.

The purchase ended St. Peter’s Syro-Malankara Catholic Church’s request to build a two-story, 10,925-square-foot building and a 55-space parking lot on the property.

The Church’s proposal earlier this year was met by fierce opposition from residents, who said it was not suited for the residential neighborhood, would increase traffic and have a negative impact on wetlands.

Clarkstown in 2008 became one of 600 municipalities in the US to sign the United States Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 7 percent below the 1990 levels by 2012.

The town now plans to turn the 4.3 acres off Mountainview Avenue into nature trails that connect to the Long Path and integrated into Mountainview Nature Park, Supervisor George Hoehmann announced on November 2.

Phone and email messages left for church representatives were not returned on November 2, reports lohud.com.

The town’s purchase will protect 2.357 acres of wetlands, according to a press release issued on November 2.

The church also was facing a new town law that limits requests for non-residential uses and developments to state and county roads.

“Today’s agreement is another bold step in protecting Clarkstown from overdeveloping in residential neighborhoods while protecting the quality of life our residents demand and deserve.” Hoehmann, a Republican seeking re-election on Nov. 7, said in a statement.

Dan Caprara said his fellow Town Council members supported the purchase.

“One of the biggest parts of the comprehensive plan is to preserve the suburban and semi-rural character of the town, and purchasing this property accomplishes that,” said Caprara, a Democrat running to represent Ward 2, which includes Valley Cottage.

“A two-story, 11,000-square-foot structure is just not suitable for Mountainview Avenue, period,” he said.

Tina Traster, founding member of the Mountainview Avenue Preservation Group, called it “a special road that should be protected from the impacts of future development and our members could not be more excited about the open space we have to look forward to.”

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