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Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church plans major expansion

One of the largest churches in the area is about to grow larger.

Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church is planning to expand its 65,000-square-foot building at 8180 Greiner Road, Clarence, by 28,000 to 30,000 square feet.

The expansion includes space for classrooms for child care, a bookstore and a chapel, according to Clarence Planning Director James Callahan.

"The Clarence Planning Board will probably recommend next week that the Town Board approve [the church's request to expand]," Callahan said Thursday. The board will meet at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The church must apply for a special exemption-use permit because the planned expansion is more than 10,000 square feet and is located in a residentially zoned area, Callahan said. The mammoth church complex abuts both the Glenwood Drive and Loch Lea subdivisions.

If the Planning Board does recommend approval, the Town Board will hold a public hearing.

Callahan said notices were sent to neighboring residents alerting them to the expansion plans, to which not much opposition is expected.

The Town Board first approved plans for the church in 1998.

"That original approval did identify that it would include future additions," Callahan said. "In fact, there's even a third [planned expansion] -- phase three -- on the drawing they're showing."

The church has a 2,240-seat sanctuary and parking for up to 720 cars.

Neighboring residents initially balked at plans to build the church, raising concerns about removing the 40-acre farmland from the town's tax rolls and fears that the traffic the church would attract would overburden local roads.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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