Korean Baptist church wins approval for worship building

June 19, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Board of Appeals unanimously approved last night a Korean Baptist church's plans to establish a house of worship in a residential building on a 15-acre farm in Highland.

The board voted 4-0 to grant the Baltimore Sung Rak Korean Baptist Church a special exception from zoning rules, allowing it to conduct religious activities on the property.

But the board placed seven restrictions on the church, including limiting religious activity to no more than 50 people in an existing two-story building -- near Browns Bridge Road -- where the church's pastor, Youn Jun Park, will live with his family.

The board also barred outdoor activity on church property during Sunday worship service and Wednesday Bible study.

Neighbors, represented by attorney Thomas M. Meachum, complained that using the building for a church and the increased vehicular traffic would upset the neighborhood's tranquillity.

But Vincent M. Guida, the church's attorney, persuaded the board that the church's plans wouldn't have an adverse affect on the community.

The church "wants to be good neighbors, and I am positive they will be good neighbors," he said.

The congregation has shared quarters with an Ellicott City church for four years. It hopes to build a larger church on the Highland site.

Last night, two Highland residents asked that the church strengthen a buffer zone between the church and residents of Greendell Lane by adding more trees. But the board refused to require the 30-member congregation to do so.

Because of intense community opposition, the church changed its original plan to use two existing buildings on the farm. Instead, it will have Sunday worship services and Wednesday evening Bible study in the living room and basement of the house.

Not all neighbors were pleased with the amended plan.

"I did not protest against a church going next to me nor a Korean church going next to me. I am protesting its impact on my property," said Gerald Gilbert, one of the neighbors who wanted the church to strengthen the buffer zone so that he wouldn't see the church's planned 21-space parking lot from his residence.

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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