Zoning board votes against downtown church

The Hastings Planning and Zoning Commission doesn’t see a new church in the downtown district as proper economic development.

As a result, the board unanimously recommended Monday that the Hastings City Council deny a conditional use permit filed by Godspell Community Church, which wants to locate at 102 N. Denver Ave.

The church is a newly formed organization with about 10 members who want to rent the downtown location. They need a conditional use permit to conduct church services at the location.

During the public hearing on the conditional use permit, Randy Chick, director of the Business Improvement District, said that many businesses might be harmed by the opening of the church as liquor licenses could be impacted in the area and hinder economic growth. Under city ordinance, a church needs to be located more than 150 feet from the nearest corner of a business with a liquor license, Chick said, adding it would potentially affect up to 15 different properties.

“At our June 10th meeting, our board discussed this item. The decision to oppose this was unanimous,” Chick said. “Downtown districts are traditionally designed for commerce, whether that be retail, service business or office space. Those spaces create jobs and create taxes. To occupy a store front with a church takes away potential space for a future tax-generating business.”

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