The St. Joseph City Council approved a rezoning request and special-use permit for a planned expansion at the Church of St. Joseph. The vote was 4-1, with council member Bob Loso voting against the move due to concerns about parking.
Approval of the permit and rezoning is contingent upon a signed development agreement. With the council vote, the church is no longer zoned R1, Single Family. It is B1, General Business. The special-use permit was needed as the church plans to construct a fellowship hall that will connect the church and school.
St. Joseph City Administrator Judy Weyrens said the city’s planning commission held a public hearing last month to consider the rezoning request. Action was tabled so plans could be revised and resubmitted for approval. Specifically, there was concern about fire safety and access issues.
The original plan had a mid-block access to Minnesota Street. The access has been moved back to First Avenue and has been widened to meet First Avenue across the street.
Fire safety concerns have also been addressed in the new plans. Revisions include the addition of a 12- to 13-foot access from College Avenue going east along parish property, changes to a stone wall in the west alley entrance behind All Saints Academy to provide additional fire access and wider doors at the connection between the church and school so the fire department can get hoses through there in case of an emergency.
The project will provide 154 parking spaces, with additional parking in the adjacent lot owned by the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict. Weyrens told council members July 5 the church also has an agreement with the College of St. Benedict that will provide an additional 146 parking stalls during church events.
The sharing of parking worried Loso. As the city works to address parking needs, he said he didn’t want to compound the problem.
“We have a parking problem,” Loso said. “That’s how we created this parking problem in the city of St. Joe by doubling up on the parking.”