Council may revisit church rezoning issue

The Richmond City Council may revisit a rezoning request after voting it down two weeks ago.
The Lighthouse Baptist Church on North Main Street had requested to rezone an old church they own from Public Service and Office District to residential. The old church’s property sits adjacent to the current church’s property on Buchanan Street.
Church Pastor Nelson Holmes wants to move his family from the Excelsior Springs area to Richmond to better accommodate their schedules. Holmes said he wants to renovate the church into a residence. The church provides Harvesters distributions, and Holmes would like to cut down on his family’s commute and become part of the Richmond community.
A hearing was held earlier this month and the Richmond Planning Commission voted down the request 6-0. The Daily News was not informed about the meeting as required by Missouri law.
According to the minutes from the Planning and Zoning meeting, only neighbors Ray and Jill Noble who live across the street, were the only residents who attended the meeting. The Nobles opposed the rezoning because they felt the Holmes could not make the church look like a residence, and they did not believe the building is structurally sound. Community Development Director Lisa Hastings said she has not inspected the building and that a special use permit could not be allowed. The Nobles also questioned whether or not the Holmes could afford to renovate the church.Commissioner Mike Harrison, according to the minutes, also had concerns about the Holmes being able to finish the project. Commissioner Michael Douglas, according to the minutes, said he felt the zoning change would be a step backwards.
Richmond Councilmen Dave Powell, Tom Williams, Bob Bond and Mike Wright toured the church building Friday afternoon. All four came to a consensus that the building passed the eye test, although none are licensed inspectors. Wright said he was expecting a lot worse conditions and was impressed. The Councilmen also said they would like to see the Holmes revisit the issue again.
The Holmes have sought legal counsel.

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