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Chinese Christian Church Gets OK For New Building

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Pastor Jeff Whisman of the Chinese Christian Church in Somerset, left, talks about plans to construct a new building for the church.

The Chinese Christian Church in Somerset, Amwell Road, received Zoning Board of Adjustment approval July 17 to raze an existing building and build a new one in its place.

The current building, which is used for the church’s Youth Ministry and some worship services, is rife with code violations, church officials told the board.

“The local fire inspector has been very patient with us,” Jim Kissane, the project’s architect, told the board.

The project entails razing a building that faces Matilda Avenue and constructing a 9,922-square-foot, three-story building. The new building would contain seven classrooms, and assembly room, space for the Youth Ministry and space for a nursery that would be used during services, Pastsor Jeff Whisman told the board. He said the space would also be used for fellowship on Fridays and a Wednesday morning English class.

“If we don’t get approval, we may not be able to use this building much longer,” Peter Lanfrit, the church’s attorney, told the board. “There are too many code violations.”

Kissane outlined some of the violations: “The doors are not fire retardant, the halls are very narrow, the electric is terrible.”

“It has seen better days,” Kissane said. “Its time is up.”

Mark Healey, the township’s principal planner, noted that the church currently doesn’t have enough parking, and still would not with the new building. He said he wanted to make sure the new construction wouldn’t exacerbate the situation.

Whisman said parishioners use street parking and spaces in a nearby business.

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