July 2, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Church Changes Okayed By Planning Board:

With little discussion, on January 17 the City’s Planning Commission approved all modifications requested for the remodel and expansion of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church project located at 1248 18th Street.

According to the City staff report, originally a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the remodel was approved back in December of 2005 by the City Council after neighbors of the project made an appeal to them. The Council’s approval included a Parking Variance and requirement to provide 12 leased parking spaces off-site. The redesigned project now includes 15 on-site parking spaces that would be located adjacent to the 17th Street alley, thus making a parking variance unnecessary. The area for the parking spaces is being made available by reducing the size of the social hall and having the rebuilt second floor cantilever over the parking area. This reduction also results in a smaller parking requirement for the project.

The Board also approved the church’s request to have the project approved with a six-year vesting period for the CUP, so there could be a four-phase construction schedule and the church can continue to operate during the remodel. The relocation and rehabilitation of the residence located at 1248 18th Street is part of phase one while the second phase involves the construction of the addition that will house the social hall and part of the surface parking. The third phase will include the removal and reconstruction of the building that currently houses the social hall and the classrooms, and will also include completion of the parking area. The remodel and expansion of the sanctuary will be part of phase four.

Charles Haskell, president of the church, explained to the Commission that after the neighbors’ appeal to the City Council, the leadership of the church “was disturbed by how upset the neighbors were about our project and were upset about the long-term viability of our church’s programs if we did not put those 12 spaces on-site” that the Council required. “At the direction of the Board, our architect and our building committee found a way to put 15 spaces on-site.” He emphasized that the creation of the new design and the new project have created additional costs for the church.

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