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Fish Church Selling Piece of Land for Apartments

Zoning board holds public hearings

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Stamford, CT | Added on April 29, 2014 At 03:41 PM

It's known to many in Stamford as the Fish Church.

"It's a fixture.  It's a landmark," said John Vento, who grew up in Stamford.  

The iconic place of worship was built on 10 acres of land in the 1950s.  But like many denominations, over the years it's seen a decline in fellowship.  

"And yet we have this remarkable building that we've been blessed with but which also takes a lot of money to maintain," said Reverend Dr. David Van Dyke of First Presbyterian Church.

So the church is hoping to sell three acres of its property: a parking lot that mostly sits empty during the week.  There, the Rowayton-based developer plans to construct a 175-unit, 6.5-story residential complex.  

"Turning it into a working asset that will enable this congregation to keep its ministry going and to maintain this unique architecture," said Rev. Van Dyke.  

Though many say they want the church to thrive, some residents in the neighborhood are worried about traffic and parking.  Bringing their concerns before the city's zoning board Monday night.

"Traffic on the street is horrendous.  Morgan Street is a busy street," said one resident.

"I think putting that much more traffic is a problem.  I don't have a problem with the church wanting to develop the property," said another concerned resident, who says he parks daily on Morgan St.  

But the developer says parking won't be an issue.  

"Our motivation is to make sure we have more than enough parking.  Equally, we're incented not to build something that won't be used because that's simply a waste," said Samuel Fuller, president of Fuller Development, LLC.  

If the project gets passed, Reverend Van Dyke says not only will it help them take care of their historic fish-shaped sanctuary; it will also further their mission.

"The congregation really for the first time in a long time will be able to, rather than thinking about how can we cut back a little more from the budget, is going to be able to say, what is God really calling us to do and to be," said Rev. Van Dyke, "And to have resources in order to do that thinking and then to implement those ministries."

The city's zoning board will continue its public hearing on this matter Monday, May 12.  


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