Hearing for proposed house of worship expected to continue in September

MARLBORO – Representatives of The Church in Marlboro have started to make their case to the Marlboro Planning Board for the construction of a house of worship on Union Hill Road.

The application had its initial hearing on July 17. No decision was reached that evening and the public hearing was carried to the board’s Sept. 4 meeting at Town Hall.

The Church in Marlboro is represented by attorney Salvatore Alfieri.

The applicant is proposing to construct a 7,680-square-foot, split-level church/house of worship with a 220-seat sanctuary area, meeting rooms, office space, restrooms and a lobby on the upper level. The lower level would have a multi-purpose room, meeting rooms, restrooms and a kitchen, according to the application.

The 9.7-acre parcel that is the subject of the application is at 523 Union Hill Road, opposite Willow Lane and adjacent to the property that contains the Asher Holmes Elementary School.

There is a home on the property which would be removed if the house of worship is constructed. The remainder of the tract is heavily wooded and has a tributary that leads to Pine Brook. There is a pond area along the rear of the property.

During the July 17 meeting, David Lu, the property owner and a founding member of the congregation, testified. He said The Church in Marlboro was founded in 1996 by Chinese, Mandarin and English speaking Christians. The congregation gained nonprofit status in 1999.

Lu said the congregation is made up of about 60 families from the community. He said at present, The Church in Marlboro rents facilities from the Marlboro K-8 School District and conducts Sunday morning services, monthly gospel meetings on Saturday evenings and other unspecified events.

Lu said he purchased the property on Union Hill Road in 2017 for a new house of worship. He said the congregation is run by volunteers and does not have full-time pastors. He said he expects that to remain the case with the new facility. Lu said no large celebrations are held and he said he expects that to remain the case in the new building.

Lu said only the religious portion of weddings or funerals would take place in the building and he said those services would be limited to weekends.

Testimony indicated the proposed kitchen is expected to be used only to reheat food, with no cooking taking place in the building.

Engineer John Ploskonka testified there would be 80 parking spaces provided, with four parking spaces reserved for individuals who have a handicap. Those four parking spaces would be accessible for a van.

Ploskonka said the application follows a section of the municipal code which describes multiple conditions that must be met to place a house of worship in a residential area.

During the public comment portion of the hearing, several residents expressed concern about how a house of worship could affect traffic in the area.

Some residents said while they approved of a new house of worship in Marlboro, they were opposed to one at the Union Hill Road location because of their concerns about traffic.

One resident expressed concern the congregation might increase with the construction of the building.

Testimony regarding the traffic impact of the application may be presented at the Sept. 4 Planning Board meeting.