Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Long Beach Redevelopment Board voted last night to walk away from negotiations over the Filipino Baptist Fellowship church property. Eminent domain action, authorized at the March 13 meeting, was not addressed.

During the opening comment period, the attorney for the church, John Eastman, noted his difficulty in speaking on the question, since the agenda did not indicate what question was before the board. The board chair, Thomas Fields, replied that it was not appropriate for the board to answer questions during the public comment period.

After a five minute open session, the board recessed to discuss the church property in closed session. Fifteen minutes later, the board returned and announced that negotiations with the church were over.

Attorney Eastman and Rev Agustine, pastor of the church, conferred with long-time City Clerk Jan Pittman to clarify the meaning of the decision. She said that she understood the decision to mean that the board would not proceed with eminent domain. Responding to questions, she said that eminent domain proceedings are held in the city of Norton, and that no further notice would be due to the church if eminent domain proceedings were initiated.

The church property is located in Long Beach on Atlantic Avenue, a four lane road with two parking lanes. Most of the properties in the two block area have been acquired by the city and razed. The east side of the street was redeveloped five years ago with the construction of single family housing. The west side of the street is expected to be developed with higher density housing, but plans have not been announced. The city’s redevelopment project was begun in 1996. The Filipino Baptist Fellowship purchased the church in 2002, in the open market.

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