Coon Rapids church request to use vacant building denied

A conditional use permit for North Point Church church to use a vacant office building on Hanson Boulevard has been denied by the Coon Rapids Planning Commission.

The issue is parking, specifically the parking lot at the rear of the building, which commission members said was in such a state of disrepair that its needs replacement, but a church official said that the lot just needed to be maintained with the existing holes filled in, according to Planner Scott Harlicker.

The church has 10 days from Jan. 16 to appeal to the Coon Rapids City Council.

Currently uses Northdale Middle School for its worship services, the church wants to move into the 7,300 square-foot former office building at 10731 Hanson Blvd., which is adjacent to the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.

Under the church’s proposal, half the building, which is zoned for office use, would be converted to office/sanctuary and the other half would be for offices, conference rooms and storage.

The sanctuary, as proposed, could seat 200 people and work on the building would include general maintenance and upgrades to bring the space current with today’s handicapped accessibility standards and fire code, according to Harlicker.

Exterior improvements proposed include the removal of the existing loading area, patching, repairing and striping the existing parking lot and general maintenance of the outside of the building and the grounds, Harlicker wrote in his report to the commission.

In a letter to the city accompanying the permit application, the Rev. David DeVel, lead pastor, wrote that North Point Church is a Wesleyan church, a Protestant, evangelical denomination.

The church has been meeting at Northdale Middle School the past three years and has 35 member families at this time, according to DeVel.

“We have plans to steadily grow and will be very excited to be able to utilize the greater capacity of the new sanctuary at this time,” DeVel wrote.

The church planned to use the building, not only for worship services, but also for religious instruction for all ages; outreach; ministries dictated by the needs of the congregation and community; and usual gatherings and meetings consistent with religious organizations and to foster community, according to DeVel’s letter.

The conditional use permit request was originally before the commission at its November meeting, but action was postponed to allow planning staff and the church to work on an alternative to the five-year time frame for bringing the site into compliance with current code.

According to Harlicker, if the change in use to a church does not trigger a need for a change in associated site improvements (parking), the site does not have to be brought into compliance with current code.

If the church used the existing 13 parking spaces on 108th Avenue and the current 20 spaces on Hanson, it would limit seating in the building to 132, but it would not require code compliance, Harlicker wrote.

However, the church has proposed the same site improvement plan that was presented to the commission in November, adding the 17 parking spaces in the rear of the building to the 33 available on the streets, he wrote.

Not only are those 17 parking spaces in disrepair and do not meet code standards for parking, they also impede existing access from 108th, Harlicker wrote.

According to Harlicker, replacing the rear parking area would require bringing that and other paved areas of the site into compliance with setback requirements, installation of curb and gutter, landscaping and possibly, depending on the extent of the paving, installing a storm management system.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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