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Church / school zoning question

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,482
Points
44
Church question… The church that I go to, just had a plan to put a catholic school on the same property as the actual church denied by the zoning hearing board because the land is zoned Agricultural Preservation, but it is surrounded on three sides by residential zoning. They are now talking about asking for a zoning change to allow for the school to be built. Does anyone have any information that might help reverse the decision?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
OK, these are outside of the land use debate, and should not be considered, but probably are:

1. Parents who send their kids to private or parochial schools still pay property taxes, supporting public schools while receiving none of the benefits. Another way to look at it is that they subsidize the public schools.

2. Parochial schools pay not property taxes. I wonder if there would be objections to a tax-paying development on the site.

A zoning change would normally be required as a first step to approving a development such as this. We would probably look at a PCD including both the church and school, as they are likely to share parking, storm water facilities, etc. Depending on how much land they have, they may be considering other development in the future, such as senior citizen apartments.

I don't know if schools fit under the "Get Out of Zoning Free" card given to religious institutions.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
I think you are confusing me with this but I'll try.

A church was denied an application for a school based on the use not being consistent with the permitted uses within the AP District, right?

Since they were denied they decided to go before the Zoning Hearing Board to have the property rezoned, right?

No, nothing wrong with that.

What does the Comp Plan say?

They have a good argument for rezoning because the AP district doesn't fit with the character of the surrounding land use any more.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
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34
I'm not a scholar on it, but they probably have a claim under the Federal RLUIPA - Regious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

Here is a pro RLUIPA web site for reference

And heres a good Q&A Reader about it.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Let me guess, they want to open for September 1st and are just asking now.

But seriously, sounds like a PA and rezoning are in order, unless the stuff Chet mentioned come into play.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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7,342
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We do special use permits for most of our religious facilities and private schools, but we're pretty careful about the limitations we place on them. Bulverde is only 20 miles from Boerne, TX- home of the City of Boerne v. Flores Supreme Court decision concerning protection of religious uses from municipal regulation based on the previous incarnation of RLUIPA. Needless to say, folks around here are a little antsy about regulating religiously affiliated institutions. You can try sitting down with the church/school and see what they are willing to do for the city. Most churches understand the impact they have on the surrounding area, so they're usually willing to help out as long as it doesn't cost them too much money. With a school and a church, my biggest concern would be traffic since Mommy & Daddy have to drive the kids to school and people drive to church. You might talk to them about supplying a traffic cop to direct traffic at peak times.

If the property is already rezoned on three sides, then I see no reason that the property shouldn't be rezoned. Our ordinance allows multiple attempts at rezoning a property, but they must be seperated by six months from the date of decision.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
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2,022
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27
Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
"Parents who send their kids to private or parochial schools still pay property taxes, supporting public schools while receiving none of the benefits. Another way to look at it is they subsidize the public schools."
This is a bit off-topic, but I have a bit of a problem with this mentality. Just because you don't have children doesn't mean that you don't benefit from an educated community. I don't have children but I am glad that there are decent public schools where I live. I have talked to many people in my office over the years who are looking to possibly relocate a business here and invariabily the question of schools always comes up. So to say there is no benefit if you don't have kids yourself in public school is a bit erroneous in my opinion.

Now, to the topic at hand. Both schools and places of worship everywhere I have worked always required a special exception in every zoning district. Then it's just a matter of considering any adverse impacts to the surrounding neighborhood.[
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
MD Planner said:
Originally posted by Michael Stumpf


1. Parents who send their kids to private or parochial schools still pay property taxes, supporting public schools while receiving none of the benefits. Another way to look at it is that they subsidize the public schools.

This is a bit off-topic, but I have a bit of a problem with this mentality. Just because you don't have children doesn't mean that you don't benefit from an educated community. I don't have children but I am glad that there are decent public schools where I live. I have talked to many people in my office over the years who are looking to possibly relocate a business here and invariabily the question of schools always comes up. So to say there is no benefit if you don't have kids yourself in public school is a bit erroneous in my opinion.
You're right. I had thought of saying "... receiving none of the benefits directly" but thought that I could keep my comment simple. Quality schools do benefit the entire community.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
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19,482
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44
Why is it that so many places beat up on Church groups? I figure that they would be a good thing for many of the communities.

The case that I mentioned above is in a township out side of the city. I belong to the church and would like to see it get built. It is in a great location, and after talking to my priest, he said that it was denied because of size requirements. They require 78% open space in Agricultural Preservation, with this new building; it would only leave 77%. On top of that, it has residential on 3 sides, of the property, and a road on the 4th. Across the road, they have it zoned Agricultural Preservation, but the site that the Church is on now, is too small to have any kind of a farm, or agricultural use in the future. As it is, this use would compliment the residential area that surrounds the property. To top it off, the church owns, and occupies the property, and it is already tax exempt.

I just do not understand people. Maybe I am over looking something, and I might be wrong. But for now, I believe that this addition to the church (limited class rooms, meeting rooms, day care, and youth center) is a good thing.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
As you describe it, I would say your city is in a very tenuous position. They would have difficulty upholding that zoning definition regardless of the intended use, if the parcel is itself too small to farm.

The problem people have with churches is that they are used for more than just Sunday church services. They can have the same impacts as a commercial use, if there are other activities (schools, meeting/banquet halls, etc.) associated with them. Churches may also attract "those people" if they provide social services such as food pantries, homeless shelters, etc.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
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6,377
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29
Chruches do cause areas problems, parking on side streets, noise, trash, etc etc.

Many times chruches grow far too large for the area around them: a church with 800 members off a side street is a BAD idea.

A school/day care with 100 kids thats easy 300 extra trips a day on what more offten than not is a quiet street.

In GSO for a chruch to have X amount of space it had to be on road large enough to support the traffic. I noticed in the last city i worked that churches and the folks around it did not tend to get along. Never mind almost every one came to my office with the adittude of the ARE god and to require them to do anything or spend an extra dime ment i was with "the devil" I began to hate to work with churches at all.

just my .02
 

SCCOTS

Member
Messages
11
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1
It seems as if the disagreement is in the scope and size of the development, not its use. I would hope that the planning commission would stick to its guns, and render a decision that is consistent with the Ordinance. At the same time, the church should be receptive to the fact that there is a dimensional standard to the property. I dont comprehend how the church cant shave enough off of the new building to meet the 78%.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
SCCOTS said:
It seems as if the disagreement is in the scope and size of the development, not its use. I would hope that the planning commission would stick to its guns, and render a decision that is consistent with the Ordinance. At the same time, the church should be receptive to the fact that there is a dimensional standard to the property. I dont comprehend how the church cant shave enough off of the new building to meet the 78%.
I think you read that backwards. The requirement is that 78% of the site be left open. The proposed building would take up 23% of the site. We don't have the actual figures, but let's take an example. Say that the building was 40,000 square feet, which if it did include a school and meeting rooms, would be a decent size. Let's say the lot was four acres - that would be 23% coverage. A 1% reduction to get the building to comply would be 1742 square feet. That is about the size of a moderate home. Would that be classrooms? offices? meeting space?

IMO, the church is wrong to pursue the development under the current zoning. This should be rezoned to an institutional district, or to another district that permits this type of development if the city does not have a separate designation for the use. With that, the city does not sound like it has a valid reason to deny the rezoning, given the surrounding uses and the unsuitability of the property for agriculture and the threat of rluipa.
 

SCCOTS

Member
Messages
11
Points
1
Agriculture districts usually behave as residential districts. In this case the district has standards that restrict the lot coverage. To rezone the property to skirt the dimensional standard to allow principal permitted uses (the Church and associated school) simply to have what they feel is convenient isnt appropriate.

I will admit that I dont care for parcel based comprehensive planning, but I wont agree that use should be determined by adjacent usage either. The community around the church was developed with this property preserving open space to advance a publicy determined goal.

I dont think this is a taking, or a restriction of use under the Rulipa.

If the difference in the issue is a small amount of floor space , then I would advise to petition for a variance that will lock in the %.

If you changed it to, say 75%, then it still reasonably advances the goal of open space preservation AND insulates the public interest from development. Who's to say that after a rezoning was to be granted, that the church dosent fall on hard times, the property was sold to someone who builds a strip mall? (obviously I am stating this without knowing the Code there)

Furthermore, I agree that while churches often enhance a community, there are equally as many cases where churches impose a great deal of nuisance on their neighbors.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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SCCOTS said:
Agriculture districts usually behave as residential districts.
Not here. An agricultural district is one that permits agriculture, and perhaps a dwelling and farm buildings, but little else. We also have ag transitional, which is little more than a holding district until the land is zoned for its ultimate use. I tend to prefer the re-zone over a variance simply because I do not like to set precedents on variances, and the rezone would recognize the true character of the property better anyway. Why not re-zone to a PCD and have, as you suggest, 75% of the area reserved as open space?
 

michaelskis

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Michael Stumpf said:
I tend to prefer the re-zone over a variance simply because I do not like to set precedents on variances, and the rezone would recognize the true character of the property better anyway.
I agree, and I think I will mention to the church to have them look into that, and speak with there developers.
 
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