Council opens new doors for churchesThe Rosemount City Council has opened the door for churches to build in rural residential areas. With a unanimous vote April 20 the council approved a text amendment to its zoning ordinance that clears the way for churches to build on rural properties zoned transitional residential.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
The Rosemount City Council has opened the door for churches to build in rural residential areas.
With a unanimous vote April 20 the council approved a text amendment to its zoning ordinance that clears the way for churches to build on rural properties zoned transitional residential. Currently there are only two areas in Rosemount that fall under that zoning — along Highway 3 north of Bonaire Path and in the Evermoor development.
The change was motivated by Cedarwood Church, a nine-year-old congregation that is looking for a home of its own after meeting in District 196 school buildings. The church found property at the corner of Highway 3 and Biscayne Avenue, but zoning rules stood in the way.
“We’ve been looking for 10 years for a place to live,” Cedarwood pastor Mike Berg said last week. “We thought we’d found one. I came to the city to talk to (planner) Eric Zweber and he said, No, you haven’t found a place.”
The text amendment went through the city planning process without any significant issues, but the proposal didn’t sit well with some of the people who live nearby. Neighbors raised concerns about the additional traffic the church might generate, and about the aesthetics of adding a church in a neighborhood.
“I just do not feel that this is a good fit for this neighborhood,” said Matthew McDonald, whose parents live near the proposed church site.
Other opponents raised more extreme concerns. One anonymous letter suggested the city might be opening itself up to undesirable development down the line.
“The word ‘church’ means different things to different assemblies. We can’t assume that every church will be a lily-white protestant denomination that follows ‘acceptable’ Sunday morning and Wednesday night meeting formats,” the writer argued. “There may be daily assemblies, loud noises announcing prayer times, demon worshipers and other denominational variances in our residential neighborhoods.”
The text amendment imposes a few rules on would be church-builders. Under the new rules churches must have access to a major street within 500 feet, cannot offer daycares or schools on non-service days and must build with a masonry exterior.
Berg argued against that last rule, asking for permission to build a cedar-log building he said would be in keeping with the church’s name. But council members cited concerns about long-term maintenance and rejected the request.
Cedarwood plans to build a 5,200-square-foot building on property currently occupied by Lenny’s Landscaping. Council members said last week they believe the new use will be an improvement.
“I’m more confident with a church being a good neighbor than another landscaper moving in there,” council member Kurt Bills said. “I think the improvement will be a positive to that area.”
Cedarwood still has to get city approval for a specific building plan. Berg hopes to start worshiping in the community immediately and save to build a church building in two to five years.