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Published: Thursday, 6/28/2007

County plan panel objects to church's bid for expansion

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Konop Konop
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The Lucas County Plan Commission yesterday recommended rejection of a zoning permit request for the expansion of Monclova Road Baptist Church, citing concerns of potential negative impacts on the church's neighbors.

The 4-3 vote denying the church's request is nonbinding, and the Monclova Township Zoning Commission and the township's trustees will make the final decision.

Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, who voted against the request, said the church's ambitious plans for growth don't seem to fit into the community.

Part of the proposed expansion includes a 2,200-seat chapel, multiple athletic fields, an amphitheater, housing for missionaries, and more than 600 parking spaces, which Mr. Konop said could create traffic, lighting, and noise concerns.

"I put myself in both parties' places," he said. "The church has other options. The homeowners, who are mostly seniors, don't have other options."

Most of the church's would-be neighbors include senior citizens and people on fixed incomes.

About 50 people opposed to the church's plans attended the zoning commission meeting.

Though Pastor Russ Merrin was somewhat surprised by the decision, he was not discouraged.

"It's just one step in the process," he said. "We're disappointed, but it's not the end of the road."

Monclova Road and the surrounding area have been the site of construction projects in recent years, including hundreds of new houses being built and construction of the Shops at Fallen Timbers mall project just down the road off U.S. 24, west of

I-475/U.S. 23.

"Anyone who moved out there five years ago expecting it to remain farmland would be naive," Mr. Merrin said.

Mr. Merrin said the church has made a $1.6 million offer to the land's owner contingent on obtaining permit approval, and construction wouldn't begin for another three to five years.

"It's not something that's going to happen overnight," he said.

Harold Grim, Monclova Township's administrator, couldn't recall a situation during his six years in that position when the county plan commission recommended disapproval on an issue and the township trustees then approved it.

He said zoning requests in the township are taken seriously by the zoning commission and the trustees.

"It always impacts somebody," Mr. Grim said. "Whether it's in a positive way or a negative way is a matter of personal opinion."

The township zoning commission meets at 6 p.m. July 9 at the township building, 4335 Albon Rd.

The trustees meet the first and third Monday of every month.

Mr. Grim could not specify when the trustees would make a decision.

Contact Laren Weber at:

lweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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