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Park Avenue Party Church Update: God 1, DOB 0

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The Third Church of Christ, Scientist at Park Avenue and 63rd Street has been embroiled in a long legal battle over its right to rent space to a catering company for posh private events. The Christian Scientists argued that they needed the revenue generated by the functions to prevent the building from crumbling, and Upper East Side neighbors responded by saying the church had become a for-profit catering hall, and the traffic and noise was out of control. Those neighbors bugged their politically connected buddies, those buddies bugged the Buildings Department, and pretty soon the church's permit got yanked. The church sued, and the back-and-forth has been pretty classic. One neighbor said the church's crowded social calendar "may be better done down in Chelsea," and the church tried to subpoena records from nearby co-ops to expose their party-throwing ways. Now the Times reports that a judge has ruled in favor of the church, and has taken some pretty stinging shots at the DOB in the process.

During the litigation, it emerged that the city had done little or nothing to stop other businesses that were operating in the area in violation of the same or similar zoning rules. For example, a restaurant was operating at the Beekman, a co-op building 60 feet from the church, and the nearby Regency Hotel was open to the general public for dining and drinking even though its certificate of occupancy said it was an "apartment hotel." Judge Batts reviewed what various federal courts had said about the 2000 law, but concluded that "under any reading, the city has treated the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, on less than equal terms."

And so, the Park Avenue Party Church will party on come hell or high water. We assume they'd opt for the latter.
· Judge Rules Against City and Allows Church to Lease Its Building to a Catering Company [NYT]
· Park Avenue Party Church Denied in Bid to Expose Neighbors [Curbed]