Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Richfield Township: Zoning amended for future church

A church that may not be built in Richfield Township for at least five years, got a recommendation from the Lucas County Palnning Commission.

Before recommending approval for the permit, the commission voted to approve an amendment to the Richfield Township Zoning Resolution which had called for such a permit to expire after one year, "if not initiated."

The church is planned for Murd Road and Central Avenue and its attorney, Mark Rose, asked that the 1-year limit be extended to 10 years.

Stephen Serchuk, chairman of the commission, said he was concerned about the length of time sought, pointing out that if the special-use permit was approved by township trustees as it was presented, then, ''the trustees are really making a plan,'' to be implemented when there might be a new set of trustees and different circumstances in the township.

He also pointed out a concern that most if not all other townships in the county adhere to the one-year expiration of special-use permits if they aren't being used.

Mr. Rose acknowledged the situation, but said a new church has a different problem in seeking and then utilizing a special-use permit than a business.

He said the one-year limit might be appropriate for a business that has a predictable income, but the church is only beginning fund-raising and has no way of predicting how successful that might be. He added that fund-raising is made all the more difficult if the church can't point to preliminary plans and land for the project.

Maggie Thurber, a county commissioner and a member of the planning body, said it wouldn't apply in this case, but suggested that the planning commission staff research the possibility of establishing a different expiration limit for not-for-profit entities.

Christ the Word Church has no projected time line for construction, Mr. Rose said, but will let fund-raising determine when initial phases can begin.

The special use permit was recommended for approval on about 20 acres which is zoned agricultural/residential.

If approved, it will be built about 150 feet north of Central Avenue and will have two drives on Murd, The site plan shows a 35.000-square-foot church building with an additional 24,000 square feet available for expansion.

Future building expansion would be for a fellowship hall, meeting rooms and a possible gymnasium. The site plan includes a softball field, playground area, storage building and a pond.

The request for a special-use permit must still be heard by the township zoning commission and then be presented to the Richfield Township trustees for a final decision.

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