By MATT BLOIS
After hearing complaints from neighbors, the Brentwood Planning Commission decided to delay a vote on a plan to expand parking at Brentwood United Methodist Church on Monday night.
The church presented a plan to build a parking lot west of the church and an addition to the building. The proposal was a concept plan, not a final design. The church would need to submit an engineering plan to the city if the concept is approved.
The church needs to expand parking because it plans to hold an additional service in an old sanctuary and because of the proposed addition. Brentwood United Methodist Church already owns the property where it wants to build the parking lot and it is zoned for religious use.
An engineer representing the church presented a similar plan last month, but neighbors complained that it could cause a nearby creek to flood. The church met with neighbors and presented a new plan this week.
The new plan shows fewer parking spaces than originally planned. The parking lot would have a large open area in the center. The church plans to use permeable pavers to reduce the amount of runoff from the parking lot.
On Monday, several people living near the church told Commissioners the new plan would have a negative impact on the neighborhood. Neighbors still worried that adding a paved parking lot could cause flooding. They also complained that it would lower property values, attract loiterers and eliminate open space.
Lee Luton, a member of Brentwood United Methodist Church who lives across the street, said he thought the parking lot would reduce the value of his home.
“You can’t put lipstick on a parking lot,” he said. “It’s still a parking lot.”
Other members of the church spoke in support of the plan. They said that the church had a big impact on their own lives and that expanding the church would allow it to serve more people in the community.
The church has parking agreements with several businesses on Franklin Road that allow congregants to park in outside lots on Sundays.
However, 60 percent of the parking for a building must be on site, according to the city’s code. The church can have 20 percent of its parking off site. Anything above that number won’t count toward the number of required parking spaces.
Commissioners Ken Travis, who also serves on the City Commission, and John Church said they would be open to changing the city code to allow more offsite parking.
Changing the city’s code would require action by the City Commission. City Manager Kirk Bednar said that type of change would apply to all commercial properties in Brentwood.
Church also asked whether it would be possible to squeeze hundreds of parking spaces into parts of the church property that were farther away from the neighborhood. An engineer representing the church said that probably wouldn’t be possible.
Commissioner Stevan Pippin said the project seemed to be creating a lot of conflict between the church and its neighbors. He suggested looking for a better solution.
“I don’t think we’ve explored every option,” he said.
After hearing the complaints from neighbors, the Planning Commission decided to delay the vote. They voted 8-0 to delay the vote. Commissioner Donna Robinson abstained from the vote because she is a member of the church.