Revised plan for Coon Rapids church project approved

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Contributing Writer

A revised site plan and conditional use permit to convert a former grocery store at Foley Boulevard and 105th Lane, Coon Rapids, into a church and construct an addition was unanimously approved by the Coon Rapids Planning Commission March 16.

Answer in Jesus Slavic Mission Church had received conditional use permit and site plan approvals on a 3-2-vote by the commission Nov. 17, 2016, to move to the former Liberty Park Grocery store property. It also needed a setback variance for the parking lot along Foley and 105th Lane, but that was rejected unanimously by the Coon Rapids Board of Adjustment and Appeals Jan. 5.

Rather than appeal the variance denial to the Coon Rapids City Council, the church decided to submit a revised plan that dealt with the variance issue.

The church’s original site plan approved by the commission would have renovated the existing building, constructed a 3,067-square-foot addition and installed a 28-space parking lot, the requirement for the 110-seat sanctuary, but the proposed parking lot had a setback of 6 feet from 105th Lane when the code required a 20-foot setback, according to Harlicker.

The revised plan scaled back the addition to 1,991 square feet with a 31-space parking lot, Harlicker said.

The existing building, which totals 3,200 square feet, will have a “total upgrade” to match the addition, he said.

But Harlicker said, under the revised site plan, five of the parking spaces on the west side of the building did not comply with the required 24-foot-drive aisle, and to remedy that he recommended and the commission concurred that these five spaces be eliminated and replaced with a single parallel space, reducing the number of parking spaces to 27 when 28 are required for the 110-seat sanctuary.

According to Harlicker, 27 parking spaces allows for a 108-seat sanctuary, so two seats would have to be removed.

Church officials went along with the condition of cutting the parking spaces and sanctuary seating, Harlicker said.

But before the church can move ahead with the project, the Anoka County Highway Department has to sign off on the site plan because Foley Boulevard is a county state aid highway, he said.

The highway department does not want any access on to Foley and the site plan complies with that; the access is on 105th Lane, Harlicker said.

In addition, the church has to submit a drainage plan to the Coon Creek Watershed District for approval, he said.

“It’s been a long road,” Harlicker said,

Answer in Jesus Slavic Mission Church is currently located in Elk River.

Liberty Park Grocery opened in 1966 and operated as a grocery story until a fire in 2012; it did not reopen after the building was renovated following the fire, according to Harlicker.