The Oskaloosa City Council unanimously rejected a request from Central Reformed Church to vacate and sell a portion of Second Avenue East to the church for expansion during its meeting Monday.
Representatives from Central Reformed Church, located at 815 Second Avenue East, have submitted a street vacation request. The request is to vacate the 256.5 foot by 66-foot section of Second Avenue East between South Seventh Street and South Eighth Street. This request has been made in anticipation of future church building expansion and parking improvements. The requested street vacation is located in an R-2 (Urban Family Residential) district. Staff received a written response from a resident and the Planning & Zoning Commission received a petition from several residents opposing this street vacate, according to city documents.
At its May 26 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the street vacation request by a 6-0 vote, contingent on a site plan and building construction permit within 10 years of city council approval.
The city council considered the request at its June meeting but tabled it until July 20.People spoke both in favor and against the street vacation request during Public Comments at the Monday meeting.
Then, the council discussed the issue.
Church plans would be a multi-phase expansion. Phase I would include items such as Americans with Disability Act improvements for the church and parking expansion. Phase II would entail a new auditorium for the church.
Craig Ver Steegh, Central Reformed Church, said that the church Consistory support the expansion plan. However, the matter had not been brought to a congregational vote yet. They wanted to see the outcome of the city council vote first.
Council member Jason Van Zetten favored a vote up or down on the request at the Monday meeting. Van Zetten said the council doesn’t know if the congregation supports the church’s expansion plans. Also, there has been no plan submitted to gauge if there would be enough parking spaces for the project.
Council member Doug Yates said that the church’s Phase I could go ahead regardless of the city council vote.
Yates wanted City Attorney Dave Dixon’s input on drafting the resolution for the council to vote on.
Dixon said the city would sell the street to the church. The city would have an easement to maintain the street until construction began. If no construction began in 10 years, the street would revert back to the city.
Van Zetten asked if a “no” vote kills it.
Dixon said, “yes,” but the matter could come back in the future.
They could do a new plan in the future, Van Zetten said.
The city council unanimously voted to reject the request.
By Duane Nollen, Oskaloosa Herald