Neighbors object to plans for a new church
Cedarwood Church is looking for a place to build. The congregation has found land in the northern part of Rosemount where it would like to construct a home of its own, but a city zoning ordinance stands in the way.
The site, located at the corner of Biscayne Avenue and South Robert Trail, is zoned rural residential, which as its currently worded does not allow churches. So the church applied to have the text of the zoning ordinance changed and on Tuesday night the planning commission reviewed the matter.
Cedarwood Church is a congregation of about 50 people. City planner Eric Zweber said the congregation hopes to build a church that can accommodate up to 225 people. Cedarwood has a purchase agreement on the Lenny's Landscaping property.
Bruce Gold, a representative of the church, said it's difficult to find land parcels the church can afford.
"This is a good opportunity for us," said Gold.
The commission's job Tuesday night was to determine whether churches of any religious affiliation are a complementary use to existing uses in rural residential districts. And as the three commission members who attended Tuesday's meeting saw it, it was.
The commissioners recommended the city council add churches as a conditional use within the rural residential zoning district with four restrictions. The restrictions included the following: the property is designated transitional residential within the city's Comprehensive Plan; the property must have direct access onto an arterial street or access to a local street within 500 feet; no ancillary uses, including but not limited to daycare, schools and nurseries occurring separately from religious services; and the building standards for a church or place of worship shall be greater than the surrounding residences to mitigate the greater scale and intensity of the use.
While commissioners didn't see any issue with having churches in rural residential areas, neighbors of the site aren't excited about the prospect of a church going into their neighborhood. A handful of residents from the area attended the public hearing and spoke against the church building on the Lenny's Landscaping site.
The most prominent argument neighbors waged was that they didn't want city sewer and water to follow. Residents, in rural residential areas, are not served by city sewer and water.
City planner Eric Zweber said the city would not build utilities out to the site. The church would require well access and a septic tank.
Residents also raised concerns about the number of people a church would bring to the area. The rural area doesn't get a lot of traffic and neighbors like it that way.
"I'm just totally against it," said Jeff Paulus.
Commissioner Kyle Irving voted in favor of the text amendment, stating that he felt it would work fine in the area.
"I don't think it would hinder the standard of living," said Irving.
Commissioners Jason Messner and Valerie Ege both expressed similar sentiments. The commission recommended the text amendment go before the city council at its April 20 meeting.
Zweber said if the council approves the changes Cedarwood Church will have to apply for a conditional use permit to build on the property. That process will include another public hearing in which residents can express opposition to the construction of the church.