A proposed conditional use permit would affirm ongoing activities in the former Hastings Middle School manual arts building as well as the operation of a food truck in the parking lot there.

Members of the Hastings Planning Commission voted 7-0 at their regular meeting Tuesday to recommend approval of a conditional use permit for the First Presbyterian Church PEACE Center, 715 W. Seventh St., with six conditions attached.

Commissioners Jacque Cranson, Lou Kully and Gavin Raitt were absent. Alternate member Willis Hunt was present.

The First Presbyterian Church purchased the former middle school Sept. 17, 2007. The church sold the main building but kept the parking lot and annex, which is now called the PEACE Center, an acronym for Presbyterian Emmanuel Arts Community Engagement Center.

The conditional use permit request was originally on the planning commission’s April agenda, but the application needed more time for completion so the item was held back to the May meeting.

The Rev. Greg Allen Pickett was in attendance at both the April and May meetings. At the April meeting, he said the church received a request in December 2020 from Beto’s Tacos food truck to operate at the PEACE Center parking lot.

“Our church’s leadership council assessed that request and affirmed it was consistent with the ministry and mission of our church,” Allen Pickett said. “We see this as benefiting a minority entrepreneur. We’ve got a lot of outreach with the Hispanic and Latino community as a church. So this was a natural outgrowth of that outreach.”

He asked the city what requirements are needed to park a food truck in the PEACE Center parking lot and learned that when the church originally acquired the property there was no rezoning.

“So that initiated us going through this formal process to get this conditional use permit both for how we’re utilizing the building as well as how we’re utilizing the parking lot,” he said.

The PEACE Center houses three food missions benefiting the Hastings community as well as foreign countries. A large mixture of uses from dog obedience to dance classes also take place there.

The property is currently zoned R-1, single-family residential, which doesn’t allow for a community center or assembly/neighborhood use without a conditional use permit.

The R-1 use district is intended for urban single-family residential areas with low to medium population densities. Commercial uses aren’t permitted. Additionally, the use of a restaurant or food truck isn’t addressed at all in the current City Code.

Development services staff felt that with this particular use, and the fact that an assembly/neighborhood use in the R-1 zone already would require a conditional use permit, processing the use of the food truck with a CUP was the best course of action.

The conditions include:

  • Maximum occupancy is limited to 299 people in the building at one time. Occupancies listed in each room and for the overall building must be reposted and approved by the building inspector.
  • Due to several hazards in the upstairs storage areas, public is banned from this area and the doors at the top of the stairs are to be locked at all times. Additionally, the stairs going up to the top will be roped or chained off so that public can’t use the stairs.
  • The applicant agrees to apply for a building permit for southern parking lot improvements when ready to accomplish that project. At that time city staff will review this parking lot site plan improvement conditional use permit standards as found in city code.
  • Any food trucks, either daily use or for the Food Truck Roundup event, will provide a copy or picture of their state certification to the development services department to maintain on file prior to each event or once a year when it is annually renewed.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Unanimously recommended approval of an ordinance and the amendment to the official zoning district map to rezone unplatted property southeast of Cimarron Meadows 9th Addition, east of Cimarron Meadows 7th Addition, north of Cimarron Meadows Subdivision #4, and west of Fishermen Lane from CP-3, Commercial Business Planned to R-1, Urban Single Family Residential.
  • Unanimously recommended approval for an ordinance to amend the Hastings City Code section regulating solar energy uses.
  • Unanimously recommended approval of an ordinance and the amendment to the Official Zoning District Map to rezone property generally located between 825 S. Elm Ave. and 1007 S. Elm Ave from I-2, Heavy Industrial to R-1A, Single Family Large Lot Residential.
  • Unanimously recommended approval of an ordinance to amend the city of Hastings comprehensive plan future land use map by changing land use south of Second Street, east of Marian Road to Chestnut Avenue and south to the railroad from urban residential to mixed use — neighborhood, public/semi-public and employment/industrial.