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Planners recommend permit for church

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended a conditional use permit Tuesday for a new church on South Saratoga Street.

Faith in God Deliverance Church plans to turn the 3,200-square-foot structure at 152 S. Saratoga St. into a place of worship that would hold about 49 people in a 1,300-square-foot sanctuary. The property is in the city’s central business district, and surrounding it are a public parking lot to the north, a barber shop to the south and an auto parts store to the west.

The church has no plans for a daycare or other accessory uses as part of the request.

According to the staff report on the project, the church would use the adjacent city parking lot for parking at the intersection of South Saratoga and Cherry streets.

The building has a kitchen, though food preparation is not allowed under the current approval of the Suffolk Health Department, according to a staff report on the proposed church.

The property has previously been a pawn shop.

City staff recommended approval of the conditional use permit for Faith in God Deliverance Church with the following conditions:

  • That the permit would be for establishing a church.
  • That the city’s building official and the Suffolk Fire Department establish occupancy of the building at 49 people or less.
  • No food preparation can take place without the Suffolk Health Department’s approval.
  • The building’s interior layout should be closely similar to the proposed building layout.

In a letter to the Department of Planning and Community Development, the church’s founder and overseer, Miriam Sherrod, said services would take place weekly on Sundays and Wednesdays, and that church meetings would be held regularly, though no specified days have yet been set.

City Council will take up the matter at its July 17 meeting.

The commission also unanimously approved a conditional use permit request from Trenita Cherry for a daycare for up to 10 children at 628 Adkins Circle.

The home, which would use 528 square feet for the daycare, is currently licensed through the Department of Social Services as a daycare for up to four children ages 6 weeks to 12 years, according to the staff report, with hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The staff report notes that the property has enough outdoor play space to host a daycare, and it is fenced. City staff recommended approval of the permit.

Doretha Beamon, who lives on the same street as the proposed daycare, supported the permit but asked whether a sign could be put up denoting the presence of a home daycare.

Commission chairman Howard Benton asked whether there was any provision for signage.

“I believe the speaker has raised a valid point here,” Benton said.

City planner Amy Thurston said there is no sign requirement, but the owner can request the option for a home business sign. She said it is her understanding that the city cannot require a sign with certain verbage on it, and it may be something for the commission to look at in the future.

Director of Planning and Community Development David Hainley said it’s possible for there to be signs on the right-of-way that could designate something like “Children at Play, Please Slow Down” that would be evaluated by the city’s police and public works departments.

“It may be at the applicant’s expense to place that up,” Hainley said.

He said he would relay the concern to the two departments.