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  • Kevin Elliott

City addresses place of worship in neighborhoods

Rochester Hills City Council on Monday, January 22, approved the introduction of several ordinance amendments, including a measure to increase requirements on churches and other places of worship within residentially-zoned neighborhoods.

Council in October first approved a temporary moratorium on converting residential dwellings into places of worship so the city's planning commission and staff could revisit zoning ordinances. The issue came on the heels of an approved site plan by the planning commission to renovate a 1,300 square-foot home at 1167 Brewster to accomodate Detroit Meeting Rooms.

That plan included using the building as a meeting room for a congregation of about 40 people, which included an additional parking lot. The plan raised concerns by planning commissioners that such conversions could be disruptive to neighbors in residential areas.

Following approval of the site plan, the commission requested city council adopt a temporary moratorium on the conversion of residential dwellings to places of worship to allow city staff and the planning commission time to study and recommend to city council possible ordinance changes to regulate the conversion of residential dwellings to places of worship.

Under the ordinance amendment introduced on January 22, which was unanimously approved by council, places of worship, libraries and museums would change from a permitted use to a conditional use in single-family districts. The amendment would allow such uses on roadways with a planned right-of-way of 120 feet or greater, instead of 86 feet, as currently prohibited.

Rochester Planning Manager Kristen Kapelanski said the proposed ordinance is similar to the way places of worship are treated in surrounding communities.

City council also approved the introduction of additional ordinance amendments related to on-site signage for proposed rezoning and conditional use requests; detached accessory structures; publicly-owned buildings and utilities; fences; and right-of-way requirements in order to comply with state law.

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