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BUILDING WITHOUT A PERMIT STYMIES CHURCH PLANS

Constructing an addition first and applying for city permission afterward is not a good idea -- even for a church.

This was the sermon from city fathers to a church leader who also had sought the Republican nomination for county executive in the recent campaign.

The Council Legislation Committee is recommending that the full Council receive and file a request for help from former candidate Jeffrey Baran, of Clarence, who belongs to the Bread of Life Church in South Buffalo.

After breaking ground for an addition a couple months ago, the church, with 200 members, decided it wanted to add two classrooms. However, the classrooms weren't included in original plans approved by city boards, Baran said.

Baran sent his plea in a letter to Common Council President James W. Pitts Jr., a Democrat, who filed for review in committee. Baran said the building's steel framework is up, but the church now would like a larger building.

"Because of the difficulty we were having with the original submission, our builder thought it wise not to disrupt the process and advised us to apply for it afterward," Baran said in the letter sent to Pitts. "We have researched this, but it appears though, that the city requirements for 20 percent green space will not allow this to happen. . . . Is there any way we can get a variance for this building?"

Commissioner Joseph E. Ryan, whose Community Development Department includes planning, told the Council the church's original plan was reviewed and approved last spring.

"It is unfortunate that the builder advised his client to hide the real plans, and later apply for a revision," Ryan said. "The Planning Division is certainly willing to work with the Bread of Life Church to resolve any future expansions or revisions to original plans."

Baran said Friday that he learned in a telephone call from the Council staff that the church, at 1638 South Park Ave. east of Bailey Avenue, will have to go back to the Planning Board.

"The initial permit took several months," he said. "We didn't want that to happen in this situation." Baran said that the existing sanctuary will be expanded and, as an afterthought, it was decided to add the two classrooms to the church's elementary school, in existence since 1985.

He said the enrollment in the Bread of Life Christian Academy is between 40 and 50.

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