By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer
MADISON COUNTY —
The Richmond City Commission heard first reading Tuesday evening of an ordinance that would allow churches and government offices to rent space in districts now zoned only for retail shopping.
If passed on second reading, the ordinance would allow the city’s board of adjustments to grant leasing privileges in areas zoned B-4 to churches and offices on a case-by-case basis.
Carriage Gate, the University Shopping Center and the Richmond Mall are all zoned B-4.
The ordinance states that, in cases where a church or government office wants to lease property, the adjustments board must take into account several different factors including:
• The primary use for B-4 districts is retail business
• What fraction of a property would be occupied by a church or offices
• Length of time the entity wants to remain in a B-4 district
• How long the space to be leased has been vacant.
Mayor Jim Barnes supported the change, but said the board of adjustments must be conscious of the loss of revenue the city could face in each case.
“The catch-22 is do we want (a B-4 district) to sit empty or do we want to put something in it?” Barnes said.
However, the mayor described the amendment as “a workable project” and a good compromise.
Madison Property Value Administrator Billy Ackerman said if a church leases land owned by a private individual or a for-profit company, the landowner does not qualify for any tax exemptions.
The issue arose in at a December 2013 planning and zoning board meeting. Since then, Crossroads Christian Church has been seeking to lease an empty space in the Carriage Gate Shopping Center, 857 Eastern Bypass, between Hobby Lobby and Office Depot.
Barnes said he has a conference call scheduled with the owners of Carriage Gate, who are from Texas, to discuss their thoughts on the conditional permits.
The adjustments board approved the church’s plans, but made the decision contingent upon the city commission approving the zoning amendment.
There are existing cases of churches and government offices leasing property in a B-4 zone in the city, such as the The Vineyard Community Church in the Richmond Mall. If the amendment does not pass, the city will need to review its records to find out why and how such entities were approved for their nonconforming use, Planning and Zoning Director Jason Hart said.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved an ordinance announcing the city’s intention to annex the White Hall Elementary School property.
• Accepted the new portion of Barnes Mill Road constructed next to Grand Campus Properties student housing complex as city-owned right-of-way. City Attorney Garrett Fowles said the street’s old portion, which provides access to several homes, will not need to be renamed.
• Authorized the mayor to join the Kentucky League of Cities in a declaratory judgment lawsuit against the state Department of Insurance to recover city funds loaned in 2010 to the Kentucky School Board Insurance Trust. Barnes said the resolution was a way for the city to show the KLC support.
• Reappointed eight members of the Richmond Industrial Development Corp. board. According to the order, the board still has three openings.
• Approved changing Tonita Goodwin’s status on the Richmond Industrial Development Corp. board from member to ex-officio. Ex-officio members do not have voting rights.
• Accepted the resignation of Beverly Johnson from the Parks Department
• Changed the status of Adam Jacob Noland from a seasonal to full-time laborer
• Hired seven seasonal workers for the Gibson Bay Golf Course
• Hired three employees as seasonal golf course maintenance workers
• Reappointed Dan McBride and Emmitt Igo to the Parks Board.
Barnes and City Manager Jimmy Howard said the city is working to patch potholes created during the winter, but the freezing temperatures only allow for temporary patches which must be periodically refilled.
The mayor said people parking on the side of some narrow city streets is creating a possible hazard for fire and EMS personnel trying to quickly move large vehicles in the event of an emergency. The city is looking for solutions and welcomes input from the community, he said.
Seth Littrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6623.