Residents say no to Brethren

Taranaki Daily News, New Zealand/July 22, 2011

Exclusive view: Jannet and Stewart Angelo say plans by the Exclusive Brethren to build a house of worship across the road from their New Plymouth home will ruin the amenity of the neighbourhood and create an unacceptable amount of early-morning traffic noise.

Plans by a secretive Christian sect to open a house of worship in a quiet New Plymouth neighbourhood is putting some residents through hell.

A group of New Plymouth Exclusive Brethren have applied to the district council for consent to construct a small, single-storey building big enough for 40 worshippers on Adam Lile Dr in Highlands Park.

They propose to use it for two hours a week, once on Sunday from 6am to 7am and once on Monday nights from 6.30pm to 7.30pm with about 12 cars arriving and leaving during those times.

Although it has the support of three nearby residents, three others vehemently oppose it and two spoke against the plan at a hearings commission in New Plymouth yesterday.

Of particular concern was the early Sunday session, the start time of which is the one non-negotiable aspect of the plan.

"If they get it, we are moving. We are not staying," said Adam Lile Dr resident Jannet Angelo, whose home overlooks the proposed church hall site.

"We bought this home as our dream home," she said. "I'm retiring in three years and we have spent a huge amount of money getting it nice to live in and there is no way I want to be woken up at 5.30am every Sunday morning and then once again when they leave an hour later." .

Stewart Angelo said apart from the noise issues, the church hall did not fit in with the character of the residential area.

They had already spent $2000 opposing the proposal and could afford to spend only $1000 more before they ran out of money Mr Angelo said.

The Angelos' efforts to stop the church hall have been made in conjunction with Mark Hatch, whose family home is next door to the proposed hall site.

Mr Hatch's main issue is the Sunday-morning car noise, which he told the commission an independent acoustic report had shown would be audible in his second-storey bedroom. That was in contrast to an applicant's acoustics expert assuring them it wouldn't.

Speaking for the Exclusive Brethren, Chris Herd said they wanted to locate the church hall in Adam Lile Dr because it was central to where their followers lived.

Despite what some submitters had said, Mr Herd was confident the hall would meet noise and light restrictions. "They don't know what to expect right now so they are expecting the worst. We are not here to cause a nuisance. They won't even know we are there once we are there."

Mr Herd said if the commission decided against granting consent, the church would take the matter to the Environment Court.

In 2006, a New Plymouth District Council hearings commission turned down a similar proposal by the Exclusive Brethren for a church hall on Paynters Ave.

That decision was later overturned by the Environment Court.

The hearings commission will release its decision within 15 working days.

The Exclusive Brethren -- who are they?

A Christian evangelical movement sometimes described as a sect or cult.

More than 40,000 followers worldwide in 19 countries.

They do not use television, radio or internet.

Social activities and links are reserved exclusively for those with whom they celebrate the Lord's Supper, or those within their movement.

They do not live in countries that do not have a Christian government, however they do not vote.

In 2005, Exclusive Brethren in New Zealand ran a $500,000 campaign supporting the National Party.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.