Law to change places of worship moves forward

An introduction of an ordinance to permit places of worship as a special land use in offices was approved by a 4-2 vote at the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, December 10, and will move on to a full presentation and vote at their next meeting on Monday, January 14.

Planning, building and ordinance director Patti Voelker explained that the introduction to an ordinance was prepared back in June 2018, as a request from property owners of 36300 Woodward Avenue, who wanted to allow a place of worship, the Chai Center, in their existing office building at the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and Maywood Road.

Originally, the property owners petitioned the township to rezone the property from O-1 office to a research park, but that did not go forward.

Voelker said there are currently 17 places of worship in the township, most which were special land use permits from residential which permits places of worship.

“Based on our review of other standards adopted by surrounding communities and comments provided by the township attorney, the ordinance addresses that it permits a place of worship as a special land use in he O-1 office district; allows a place of worship to only locate in an existing office building; would be limited to the parking number of spaces on site,” among other conditions, Voelker said.

“It's an existing office space, so if someone builds a new office building?” trustee Michael Schostak asked.

“No, it would not be applicable,” attorney Bill Hampton responded.

Supervisor Leo Savoie said if it didn't have a special land use, he would not be in favor of it. He asked Hampton if there would need to be two upcoming meetings for the Chai House to be approved, and Hampton said yes, one for the ordinance to have a second reading and be approved, and then if approved, for the Chai House to receive a special land use.

Clerk Jan Roncelli said, “I want the board to know I voted against this at the design review board. I feel places of worship should be places of worship, and offices should be offices, and I'm not going to change my vote.”

Roncelli and trustee Dani Walsh voted against, with treasurer Brian Kepes absent.

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