At its June 5 meeting, Village Council granted Epworth United Methodist Church a special use permit that will allow the church to undertake its first significant construction project since classrooms and the Family Life Center were added in 1994.
The multi-million dollar project includes an addition on the south side of the building, which will consume most of the existing parking lot. A new parking lot will be built on the adjacent vacant lot at 3041 Valley View Dr.
The church purchased the 3.5 acre lot in 2005 for $700,000, and demolished the 5,000-square-foot home in 2006. They have maintained it as a grassy lot ever since.
The new addition will include an expanded state-of-the-art pre-school and elementary education wing, a dedicated theater for Children's Church and drama productions, a new dedicated space for youth programs and activities, an enlarged lobby (narthex) featuring a café setting, and a new multi-purpose meeting spaces.
The improvements will also add new handicap-accessible restrooms and improve accessibility to the facility for visitors with disabilities. Portions of the existing interior will be remodeled, and there will be space for an expanded Memorial Garden.
While programming space within the church is expanding, the existing sanctuary and chapel will remain, and the new parking lot will hold nearly the same number of cars as the old lot. The project is expected to be completed by August 2018.
The church was initially founded in 1894 in the Old West End as Epworth Episcopal Methodist Church. It subsequently re-located to its present location on Valley View Drive at West Central Avenue in 1961.
In other business, council held the first reading of proposed changes to the Village zoning code, as it pertains to fences. The first major overhaul of the rules governing fences, it would prohibit the future installation of chain link fences and solid "privacy" fences.
The prohibition on fences taller than four feet would remain, as would prohibitions against fences in front of the home. New fences would have to be made of wood, aluminum, iron, metal, or polyvinyl chloride, and, with the exception of white picket fences, would have to be "of a color which will minimize visibility of the fence from surrounding properties."
There will be two more readings of the proposed changes. The next will be at the council meeting on Monday, July 10, at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers.