• The Rep - A Dolls House

Church Expansion In Clayton Hits Snag Over Parking

Central Presbyterian seeks new construction; wants to consolidate properties into one lot

Among other plans, Central Presbyterian Church leaders want to build a three-story addition to the existing church. photo by Ursula Ruhl (click for larger version)
September 26, 2012
Plans to expand Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton have hit a roadblock.

At a Sept. 18 meeting of the Clayton Plan Commission/Architectural Review Board, members tabled several expansion plans due to citizen and city concerns.

The church, 7700 Davis Drive, is located at the intersection of Davis Place and Hanley Road at the entrance to the Davis Place neighborhood. The church wants to consolidate several pieces of property that it owns, wants a permit to expand a church parking lot, and needs a city site plan and architectural review of the entire project.

Church officials want to build a three-story, 23,817-square-foot addition to the existing church and a 3,921-square-foot addition to connect two church-owned homes on North Biltmore, located behind the church. Plans also called for replacing an existing four-spot parking lot with a 12-spot lot, and tearing down a condominium building on Hanley that the church owns and replacing it with a two-level, 95-spot parking garage.

"This project has a long history, going on six years," said Tyler Stephens, an architect representing the church. "The original master plan that the church presented several years ago was not well received by the city, or by neighbors, in terms of scope. Residents felt that it would be a detriment to tear down the three homes on Biltmore."

The church owns residential homes at 818, 820 and 824 on North Biltmore.

A study was done, church officials spoke with neighbors and new plans retaining the three homes on Biltmore were presented.

Stephens told the commission that two open houses have been held in the past month and that new plans have been "pretty well received." He said the new plans meet three objectives: to increase pedestrian safety near Hanley Road, to increase on-site parking and to build necessary fellowship space for the church.

The Clayton Plan Commission on Sept. 18 approved consolidation of six church-owned properties into a single lot. The consolidation includes the church building, three homes on North Biltmore and two residential buildings at 827 and 835 South Hanley.

The commission then considered a conditional use permit to allow the construction of a 12-spot parking lot at the northeast corner of the site to replace a four-spot lot. Susan Istenes, the city's director of planning, said that without certain accommodations, including new landscaping, the city staff would recommend against the new lot.

Commission members Steve Lichtenfeld and Marc Lopata expressed concerns about a larger parking lot and the effects of storm water runoff from that lot. Stephens said the church was working to meet Metropolitan Sewer District standards on runoff.

MSD is currently looking at the proposal, but had not yet contacted the city about its findings.

After comments from the commission and residents, Stephens withdrew the church's permit request for the parking lot.

The commission was then to review the entire project's site plan, but instead met in executive closed session. Upon returning, the commission announced that the reviews were being tabled until a future meeting, allowing the church time revise its plans.

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