Commission rejects church expansion proposal

by Dan Holland

March 13 planning commission meeting

Members of the Broadview Heights Planning Commission at their March 13 meeting voted 5-0 to deny a request by Greg Ernst of AoDK Architecture, representing the Slavic Full Gospel Church at 5851 E. Wallings Rd., to construct an addition to an existing 11,000-square-foot church building.

The church, which conducts Ukrainian-language services and has added an English-language service, originally proposed an addition that would consist of a two-story 54,700-square-foot building and an expansion of the current parking lot. Plans would include a new 650-seat sanctuary, children’s wing, café, fellowship hall, offices and outdoor patios.

The planning commission tabled the project at a Dec. 13 meeting, at which time, they asked the church to perform a traffic study on how the additional parking spaces would impact traffic flow on Wallings Road and to also address a potential increase in stormwater flow coming from the site. It was requested that a redesign be submitted to better meet city codes and require as few variances as possible.

Slavic Full Gospel Church moved to the Broadview Heights location from Parma in 2002 to accommodate an increase in attendance. The church at that time purchased two adjacent residential lots, bringing the total property size to more than 10.5 acres.

A number of residents living in close proximity to the church expressed concerns over the proposed expansion during the March 13 meeting. Concerns included potential traffic congestion, increased noise, reduced property values, stormwater runoff and light pollution.

Roman Skalsky, a Broadview Heights resident who spoke on behalf of Slavic Full Gospel Church during the meeting, told commission members that the church currently hosts two Sunday morning services, prayer meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and worship practices on Tuesdays. Youth events are also held on Friday nights, and choir practices are held on Saturdays, he added.

Cuyahoga Valley Church, at 5055 E. Wallings Rd., which holds three Sunday morning services, is located less than 500 feet west of Slavic Full Gospel Church at the interchange of Wallings and I-77.

In its most recent submission, Slavic Full Gospel Church reduced its original expansion plans to 49,770 square feet.

Ernst noted that plans for the new addition were moved 20 feet to the west, with the building being situated 131 feet from its eastern property line.

In addition, a planned entrance/exit drive was moved 80 feet from the eastern property line to fall within the required setback limit, thus not requiring a zoning variance, he added.

A traffic study, performed by GDP Group of Akron, determined that the church addition, along with a presumed increase in attendance, would not cause traffic delays on Wallings Road, and that no road improvements would be necessary.

The study noted that the city could, at its own discretion, choose to add a 300-foot-long left-turn lane from eastbound Wallings Road to the church parking lot entrance.

Commission members noted that traffic counts for the study were conducted on Sunday mornings only and failed to include counts on other days of the week when the church hosts additional programming.

Planning Commission Chair Ken Emling said he believed the proposal would negatively affect neighboring residential areas and property values. He added that the addition, due to its size, would not meet city zoning requirements. “Come back to us with a plan that meets zoning requirements one-hundred percent,” he told the applicant.

“This (proposed expansion plan) is just too large for this area” added commission member Brian Culley. ∞