Huntington food pantry owner says he is being targeted by neighbors, town

HUNTINGTON -

The owner of a Huntington church and food pantry says he's being unfairly targeted by neighbors and the town.

As News 12 has reported, Iglesia La Mision church and food pantry in downtown Huntington has drawn the ire of many who say its design and color scheme don't fit in with the area's colonial heritage. 

Dominick Mavellia owns the property, and says he decided to provide the church with his building because he isn't able to do anything else with it.

Mavellia wanted to build medical offices there, but he needed a zoning change in order to do so.  He says he worked with the town and local preservation groups to come up with something that fit the area's colonial theme.

Mavellia says he was so committed to honoring the history of Huntington that he even offered to construct a life-size bronze statue of George Washington on the corner of East Main and Park Avenue.

The town board did not vote on the proposal, and now Huntington officials say the church is not in compliance with town code when it comes to issues like parking, safety and signage. 

Mavellia says whether its push back against his previous projects or town code issues and complaints from preservation groups over the church, his frustration only continues to mount.

“This is America. I think if you buy a property, you should be able to do something reasonable with it,” he says.

A Town of Huntington spokesperson says the town's concerns have nothing to do with the color scheme or the previous project proposals.

"The standard being applied here, requiring site plan approval and perhaps variances from the ZBA, is the same that has been applied to other churches on residential zoned properties. The town does not oppose the church, but wants it to follow Town code for safety reasons,” said the spokesperson.

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