Permit allows church, childcare center at Midway Station
A conditional-use permit that allows Journey Ministries, Inc. to construct a church with a childcare center in the Midway Station industrial park north of the I-64 interchange was approved Monday. The 4 to 0 vote by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Board of Adjustment (BOA) Monday followed a unanimous vote by Midway City Council earlier that day approving a zone change request for the property at 500 McKinney Avenue from professional office (P-1) and residential (R-3) to light industrial (I-1). In addition to a church and childcare center, Journey Ministries plans to have coffee/doughnut/retail space in its proposed 35,000 square-foot church building, which will be known as “The Journey Central,” according to its request. After purchasing the 5.5-acre property from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority (EDA), Planning Director Pattie Wilson said Journey Ministries, Inc. will need approvals of a final development plan from the Planning Commission and construction plans from the Technical Review Committee. “We see this as part of the vision of revitalizing this (industrial) park,” EDA Chair John Soper told the BOA. “We like what they’re going to do.” He said having different uses in Midway Station will result in more activity in the park at various times throughout the day. “This will be a boon to have these folks in here …,” he added. “So we see it all as a positive.” A church is a conditional use in any of Woodford County’s zoning districts. BOA member Frank Stark was not present for Monday’s meeting. Versailles church The BOA unanimously approved a conditional-use permit allowing Living Grace Church to operate at 128 East Green Street in downtown Versailles. The church will be in the rear portion of the building (historically known as the YMCA) located in the central business district at the corner of North Main Street, according to a staff report for the hearing. One of the conditions of the 4 to 0 approval was that Living Grace Church would begin its Sunday service at 1 p.m., but Pastor Jo Lauderdale told BOA members during the public hearing, “Ideally, we would like to keep (our service) at 11 (a.m.). We’ve been a church for two years and that’s what everybody’s used to.” Because on-street parking is permitted for businesses in a central business district, off-street parking is not required, said Wilson. Her comments compelled BOA member Al Schooler to respond, “If that’s the case she should be able to start church anytime she wants to.” His motion to allow the church services to begin at 11 a.m. failed on a 2 to 2 vote, with BOA members Tim Turney and David Prewitt voting no. Prior to a subsequent motion approving the permit with a condition that Sunday service begins at 1 p.m., Lauderdale said attendance at the service is fewer than 20 people, so the church will have plenty of parking available in a rear lot. While voicing no opposition to having another church in downtown Versailles, the pastor at Versailles Presbyterian Church, Keith Benze, said their only concern is parking. He pointed out that a 2001 survey shows that the parking lot behind the West Green Street building actually belongs to Versailles Presbyterian, but “we have no issues with you (Living Grace Church) using that small strip behind” the building. He said if the church has its services at 1 p.m. – later than other downtown Versailles churches – “I don’t see an issue.” Since owner Dan Sparrow purchased the property at 128 East Green Street in 1991, Wilson said the building has been used for a variety of uses, including retail, offices and apartments. Her staff report noted that churches are a conditional use in all of Woodford County’s zoning districts. The pastor at Living Grace Church, which also has a Tuesday service at 6:30 p.m., was told she can apply for an amended conditional-use permit if the church wants to begin Sunday service at 11 a.m. at some point in the future. That request would be discussed during a public hearing before action is taken by the BOA to approve or deny. Townhouse variances A request for variances to reduce the floor elevations of four townhouses in the Wooldridge Gardens neighborhood along Falling Springs Boulevard was unanimously approved by the BOA following a public hearing. The BOA denied a request by LK Real-Estate in March 2018 for variances, including ones for these townhouse lots at 124, 126, 128 and 130 Abbey Road. LK Real-Estate sold the lots to DAP Real Estate in October 2018, according to a staff report prepared by Wilson. BOA member Fred Powers expressed concern about allowing lower-than-required floor elevations that may allow water to enter the townhouses during heavy rainfall. Linsey Mosley of LK Real-Estate, a contractor for DAP Real Estate on the project, said drainage issues can be addressed with engineering and design work such as burying the roof downspouts. “Based on my experience, I feel like we can control any type of water concerns that may be there,” Mosley said. Given the possible drainage issues that may arise by allowing lower floor elevations, the BOA cited specific findings for its approval that emphasized a change in regulations related to floor elevation, and that an inspection of the footers and foundations was conducted prior to this request for the variances on these four townhouse units. Also, Wilson pointed out the developer will need to meet building code requirements during final inspections before occupancy permits are issued for each townhouse, which the developer said would be rental units. In requesting the variances, an attorney for DAP Real Estate, Preston Cecil, argued that changes to an ordinance governing minimum-floor elevations “caused some confusion through the years as far as what is actually required on this issue.” Cecil pointed out that variances granted for floor elevations of other units in this neighborhood in April 2017, and argued that granting the variances was of “some precedential value for our particular situation.” Footing and slab inspections were requested for the lots and passed by former Woodford County building inspector Isaac Hughes in November 2018, the report stated. In April 2019, the county’s acting building inspector conducted a framing inspection and it was decided variances would be sought to address concerns that the townhouses had been constructed with floor elevations that were too low, Wilson noted in her report. “The contractor has not constructed the townhouses according to the approved construction documents,” her report stated. Furthermore, it noted that the contractor was “well aware of the elevation requirements” and a variance allowing lower porches/building elevations to remain “could create drainage problems for the (townhouse) units.” Construction was substantially complete when the elevation issue arose in April, but Cecil argued, “The height issue, we believe, should have been addressed at the slab (inspection) stage – before the rest of the building was built.” He said requiring the developer to tear down the existing structures and rebuilding the townhouses “would result in extreme hardship to my client.” Jarrod Arrasmith of DAP Real Estate, told BOA members that the cost to rebuild the units would be significant: 1 to $1.2 million.