Brethren church plan heads to court

Taranaki Daily News, New Zealand/September 12, 2011

The Environment Court will decide whether a secretive Christian sect is able to open a church in a New Plymouth residential area.

Consent for the Exclusive Brethren to construct a small, single-storey building big enough for 40 worshippers on Adam Lile Dr in Highlands Park has been declined by a New Plymouth District Council hearings commission.

That decision immediately prompted an appeal to the Environment Court by the Exclusive Brethren.

It is a case of deja vu for the group. In 2006, a 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 small and windowless meeting halls are used for just a few hours each week – once on Sunday, from 6am to 7am, and once on Monday, from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, with about 12 cars arriving and leaving during those times.

The hearings commission declined consent for the Adam Lile Dr proposal because of the noise associated with these cars.

"Mitigation methods to ensure the noise is kept below the limit set by the District Plan have not been adequately identified," the commission said.

It said the proposal was not a replica of the Paynters Ave application as the sites had different topography and it was more difficult to mitigate noise and visual barriers at the Adam Lile Dr site.

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