Maywood Board Approves Special Use Permit for Church Seeking to Expand

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New Hope Christian Center, 14 S. 19th Ave. | Google Earth

Friday, June 23, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a June 20 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of an ordinance approving a special use permit that would allow New Hope Christian Center, 14 S. 19th Ave., to buildout and modify existing unoccupied commercial space.

The space, located at 2 South 19th Ave., is separated from the church facility by a vacant, fenced-in lot. The church owns both properties. Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Trustee Kimyada Wellington abstained from voting.

Wellington explained that she would not be voting because she’s related to New Hope’s pastor, Bishop Anthony G. Wellington. Perkins did not offer an explanation for her abstention at the June 20 meeting and could not be contacted on Friday afternoon to comment.

Months before the vote, however, several trustees had expressed some wariness about permitting the special use.

According to a business plan that Wellington submitted on behalf of his church, the new facility would host weekly job training sessions, prayer meetings, “biblical guidance sessions” and “biblical enhancement sessions.”

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A space, located at 2 South 19th Ave., that New Hope is seeking to turn into usable space. | Google Earth

But village staff members and some board members stated that were worried that “this project may be an expansion of the [tax-exempt] church into the C2 Pedestrian Oriented Commercial District,” according to an April 26 village memo written by Josh Koonce, the village’s planning and zoning officer.

An a Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting in April, former trustee Michael Rogers expressed some reservations over the village allowing the church to turn the commercial property, which currently generates commercial property taxes, into tax-exempt property.

“The whole concept of our [taking the] limited commercial property that we have off the tax rolls is problematic,” Rogers said.

“That zone, when you cross the tracks, is called Broadway. That’s a heavy commercial usage. The non-conforming uses already there are grandfathered in, but it’s important not to lose any more commercial property with the straits that the village is in.”

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An architectural drawing of New Hope’s plans for its new training facility. 

The board nonetheless voted to allow the matter to go to the village’s plan commission, which, on May 30, voted in favor of the special use permit. According to the ordinance, the permit is limited to “the types of educational and job training activities” laid out in Wellington’s application. VFP

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