Church gets OK to operate in industrial area
By Kitty Conley firstname.lastname@example.org January 14, 2014 2:58PM
Updated: January 17, 2014 11:25AM
CROWN POINT — The City Council on Jan. 7 gave its approval to a recommendation of the Board of Zoning Appeals to OK a variance-of-use to operate a church within an industrial zone.
The property at 901 Summit St. is in an I-1 zone. A special variance is required for any church to operate in that zoning district.
A church allow would have slid right through. But the intention to use the property as a music venue for rock music was a hard pill for people on both the BZA and the City Council to swallow.
City Attorney David Nicholls warned the council members that there are federal laws that must be followed for nondiscrimination against a religious facility. Their hands were somewhat tied because the people bringing in the petition told the BZA that the music venue is an essential part of their ministry and the mission of their church. It could not be separated from the use of the facility as a church.
This is a non-denominational Christian Church. It is intended for people who do not feel welcome in the more traditional churches. Young marginalized people are the ones they are looking to bring in, first with the music and then to their worship services.
One of the restrictions on the music venue is that they may only have one event a week on a Friday or Saturday night. It must be closed by 10 p.m.
RAW Church must also hire two off-duty Crown Point police officers to work the music events for security and crowd control. According to Mayor Dave Uran they will also make sure that cars leaving the area can only go east on Summit Street. There will be no left turn; the location is far too close to the intersection of Summit and Indiana Avenue, where traffic is controlled by a light.
The church is limited to 200 audience members at any music event. It is also limited to 250 people at a worship service, which will be held on Sunday evening.
RAW Church has a letter from the medical facility that occupies the remainder of the industrial park at this location that the church can use its parking at night on the weekends.
Before the church can open, the building will have to be sound-proofed and state and fire marshal approval must also be received.
After six months of operation, RAW Church will have to appear before the BZA to see if there are any problems that need to be addressed at that time. Any noise or traffic complaints would be addressed.