Church Plan Is Unwise

Ever feel like you're shouting into a windstorm?

I felt that way Oct. 23, when the Arlington County Board approved the First Baptist Church of Clarendon's application to rezone its property and then granted it a $4.5 million loan using taxpayers' funds, despite months of outcries from residents throughout the county ["Arlington Board Approves Controversial Church Plan," Extra, Oct. 28].

The project is designed to rebuild the church and generate millions of dollars of housing rental income per year. What's wrong with that?

For starters, the board had received a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, explaining why the Constitution prohibits public funds to support the church as proposed. Second, in rezoning to allow the 97-foot tower, the board violated several existing zoning laws and created a precedent that jeopardizes every residential neighborhood in the county. Third, the bailout will be a financial fiasco, as the tiny congregation is almost completely insolvent and the precarious financing of the project has no "fat" to account for construction-cost overruns.

Finally, the enormous project will increase already troublesome car and foot traffic, parking woes and overcrowding throughout the Metro Orange Line corridor.

Steven R. Kaufman

Arlington