Minooka rejects church request to rezone property
By Kris Stadalsky For The Herald-News June 28, 2012 9:12AM
Updated: August 3, 2012 6:04AM
MINOOKA — In a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, Minooka trustees denied a request by Village Christian Church to change the zoning so they could occupy the former 84 Lumber building on Minooka Road.
Church members had hoped to remodel the 12,000-square-foot facility for use as a church and school, but to do so they needed a zoning change from manufacturing to commercial.
Even though the village’s planning and zoning committee recommended the zoning change in its own 4-1 vote recently, trustees had too many concerns to allow it to go through.
Trustee Dennis Martin explained several of his concerns, which included a 1999 case where a village was forced to allow a sexually explicit business because it didn’t have specific zoning categories.
While the issue is different, the concern is still valid, Martin said.
The village has zoned that section of Minooka Road as mostly manufacturing, with businesses in the adjacent area, said Village Administrator Dan Duffy.
Allowing a church to occupy a building in the middle would not be compatible to the district and could open the village up to other types of requests, Martin said.
“This zoning, in effect, represents a spot zoning. Our zoning codes say specifically we are not to do that,” said Martin. “(It) specifically excludes churches, schools and daycare centers.”
Other trustees supported Martin, saying there would be more concerns such as truck traffic and creating an area not consistent for other business and manufacturing companies to locate.
“I would love to see the church locate in the village of Minooka, but this is not the place,” Trustee Barry Thompson said.
Pastor Nate Ferguson and church member Tim Juskiewcz both addressed the board prior to the vote, hoping to persuade them to change their minds.
The church has been operating out of Minooka Junior High for seven years, said Juskiewcz, which it has now outgrown.
The congregation has gone from 100 members in their first year to nearly 500. Moving to the new facility could allow it to grow to 3,000.
“There is something bigger here,” said Juskiewcz. “I believe if you would grant this it would be an asset to the village. I think it can conform to your comprehensive plan.”
Village Christian Church owns 10 acres in unincorporated Minooka, said Ferguson. But the 84 Lumber site would save members close to $1 million by remodeling instead of building a new facility.
Trustees still voted against the zoning change, with Dick Parrish the only one in favor. Martin, Thompson, Rudy Martin and Ray Mason voted against. Trustee Terry Houchens was absent.
“We respect their decision,” said Ferguson. “We are going to go back to the drawing board.”