ALAMO -- Rejecting an appeal by neighbors, the county planning commission has let stand plans for a controversial recreation center to be built at San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church in Alamo.

The appeal asked the commission to overturn approval of the project by the Contra Costa zoning administrator.

Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to uphold the zoning administrator's decision.

"We agreed with the zoning administrator's findings that the project was compatible with the neighborhood and consistent with the zoning and that's why we made our decision," said Aruna Bhat, a deputy director at the county Department of Conservation & Development, who presided over the appeal hearing.

Church officials say the gym is intended as "a gift" to the community, and that the idea for it came from an anonymous donor in the Alamo area. They plan to charge small fees to non-church members who want to use the gym, but say it will be open to the public.

But many neighbors of the Danville Boulevard church oppose the project. There are 29 houses surrounding the church, and the residents of 28 of them publicly oppose the gym's construction, according to a county staff report. Among neighbors' concerns are fears that the new gym will increase noise and light pollution in the area, and lead to more traffic congestion along Danville Boulevard.

In response, the church has agreed to measures designed to reduce gym and nighttime light pollution.

Bhat said anyone who wants to file an appeal to the county board of supervisors has until 4 pm Jan. 24, to do so.