Metro-East News

Zoning board gives thumbs up to church proposal at former Belle Valley school

A proposed church at the former Belle Valley North received a thumbs up from Zoning Board of Appeals members on Monday.

The St. Clair County Zoning Board of Appeals recommended the County Board allow Abundant Life Ministries to locate at a former Belle Valley School District building at 100 Andora Drive. The building has been vacant for several years.

The County Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed use on Oct. 31.

Zoning Board members however opted to delay a recommendation on whether the church could operate a daycare amid concerns of traffic flow and access to the building day to day on Cresthaven Drive off of West Boulevard, or through Andora Drive, which is privately owned.

The church’s proposed daycare would operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Church officials have said they would start off small, but also agreed to cap the number of students to 60.

The owners of the road, neighbors Gregg Williams and Walt O’Brien indicated they would be willing to allow access on Sundays, and possibly during limited hours during the week for the daycare.

“When the school was in operation, the traffic flowed in and out of there,” O’Brien said.

David Kniepkamp said if Andora was opened up for the church, there would be a concern about traffic.

A possible entrance off of Cardinal Drive also is privately owned.

“If Andora becomes one of the major egresses I think people along Shady lane, Magnolia Drive ... need to be apprised of this situation, because this is going to impact those individuals.”

For church operations, Abundant Life said no one will live on the property, and activities in the building would cease at 10 p.m. every night. The church, which has about 100 members, plans to have worship services on Sundays, and Bible studies on Tuesday evenings.

Cresthaven would be the main entrance.

“The usages will be so low,” said Nick Snyder who is looking to sell the property to the church.

Snyder said other uses have inquired about purchasing the property, such as homeless shelter, flea market, thrift stores and a behavioral school.

“We did not fit think it would be a good fit for this school, mainly for the neighborhood,” Snyder said. “As a good neighbor, we really tried to do a good thing by this neighborhood. ... Knowing you can’t make everybody happy, we’re just trying to find the right tenant for this building.”

Pat Mueller, who lives on Cresthaven Drive, said she is supportive of the church coming in and the positive effect it could have on the neighborhood.

“We on Cresthaven are extremely pleased that we’re going to have this church and this daycare there,” Mueller said.

Other business

Recycling business: Zoning Board members recommended denying a proposed scrap yard and recycling business by Joseph Lanter business at 451 White Oak Mine Road in Marissa.

Lanter wants to run the scrap yard, where he would buy metal and cars, and then sell the scrap. He added material would be shipped out right away to avoid materials from piling up. Lanter said there wouldn’t be a large pile of junk.

However there was concern from nearby residents.

David Lehman said the property would become an eye sore; Richard Seymore said he had concerns about truck traffic on the road; and Matt Baker questioned why this wasn’t being opened in an industrial park, and had concerns about water runoff affecting water wells.

The county board is scheduled to vote on this recommendation at its meeting on Oct. 31.