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Controversial Mormon church construction in Brookline could begin in fall

Posted by Brock Parker  June 10, 2011 11:46 AM

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Construction of a controversial Mormon meetinghouse that has been delayed in Brookline for more than a year could begin as soon as this fall.

The meetinghouse at 603 Boylston St., also known as Route 9, will house two congregations.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had hoped to begin construction last summer. But Julie Berry, a spokeswoman for the church’s Boston stake, which is akin to a diocese, said the project has moved slower than the church had hoped because the Latter-day Saints are building hundreds of meetinghouses around the world and the Brookline project is still working its way through the queue of the church’s building department.

“We’re hoping that we can break ground this fall,” Berry said.

Design plans for the meetinghouse were approved by the town last fall, but the church will appear before the Planning Board Thursday, June 16, at 8 p.m. in Town Hall seeking a modification to the parking garage design.

Berry said some “slight” modifications are needed for the parking garage, but some small design adjustments are typically needed as a meetinghouse design moves to construction.

Last year, more than 500 people, including neighbors, about 80 Brookline Town Meeting members and some local legislators signed on to a letter asking the town to reject the meetinghouse design, which they argued was too big for property that is only slightly larger than an acre.

The church needed a special permit from the Zoning Board because the planned meetinghouse is larger than local zoning laws allow. But in April of 2010, the Zoning Board approved a design for a meetinghouse that would be 33 feet tall with a 72-foot steeple and underground parking for about 150 vehicles and an entrance off Boylston Street.

The church has said the meetinghouse is needed to alleviate overcrowding in its growing Boston stake.

Berry said the church expects a construction period of approximately 16 months and the meetinghouse could open in the summer of 2013.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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