Monday, December 1, 2008

Landmarks Preservation of Religious Buildings

Along similar lines to the article mentioned in the last post, the Times has an article on some of the issues that arise when a religious building is being considered for landmarks preservation:

Houses of worship are among the most sensitive issues facing the landmarks commission. Mandating that a church be preserved can not only impose a heavy financial burden on a congregation, it also raises the specter of state interference with religious freedom. So the commission has been especially loath to take on churches or synagogues that don’t want to be designated.

“Nobody wants to be in a fight with a religious institution,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a preservation group.

But many preservationists and at least one commission member argue that the landmarks commission has not been aggressive enough in protecting churches from the overheated real estate market of the last few years. Given that churches tend to be low-rise buildings in choice residential locations, they note, the structures became prime targets for developers intent on building high-rise apartment towers.

Ben Barros

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