Friday, November 02, 2007

Parking, Back Taxes Sink Church Plan

The application of a South Avenue church to relocate to a nearby building was denied Thursday over lack of parking and back taxes owed by the owner.

New Visions Ministries sought to bring its 40-member congregation to 504 South Avenue, a newly-renovated building on the corner at Richmond Street. The building takes up virtually the entire lot, leaving no room for parking, trash containers or landscaping. New Visions sought waivers for everything on a long Planning Division checklist, but the board did not accept a proposal for parking at a nearby car wash because it is not laid out for parking. The board has also made it a rule not to consider applications where owners owe the city taxes, members said.

New Visions representatives balked at the board's suggestion that the cement be opened to make room for trees. The church was only seeking to occupy a portion of the building for three years, using portable chairs and making no permanent alterations to the interior. The church would comply with lighting and signage regualtions, attorney Warren Smith said.

The owner, Paramount Property Management, agreed to let the church make the application. But even after some of the requirements were resolved through discussion, the board voted to dismiss the application without prejudice, meaning the church can come back without having to pay fees for a new application once the outstanding issues are addressed.

--Bernice Paglia


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