HPBC Extended

The Hyde Park Baptist Church has requested and received from the city a 45-day extension on consideration of site plans for three tracts it owns at Speedway and 38th in Hyde Park. These are not the most controversial "big garage" tracts, which have been a bone of contention between the church and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association for years, but do involve property that the church says falls under zoning rules established prior to Hyde Park's approved neighborhood plan (the "Neighborhood Conservation Combining District"). The neighborhood association doesn't quite agree, saying the current plans may violate the church's promise of "compatibility with general neighborhood standards." The church's plans for the tracts include three buildings described by a representative as for the purpose of "religious assembly."

Susan Scallon of the city's Watershed Protection and Development Review Dept. says the HPBC is reviewing the site plans in response to staff and public comments; although the extensions formally run until mid- to late September, she expects the church will respond in the next couple of weeks. Richard Suttle, an attorney representing the HPBC, confirms that. "We're pretty much down to the final comments," he said, "and some of them are pretty technical in nature. ... We're in the process of addressing them."

HPNA had considered appealing the extensions, but concluded that they are fairly standard in such cases and that an appeal might only create further delay. Co-president Gary Penn said he expects additional delays and postponements before final city decisions can be made on the tracts. The HPNA considers the current plans for the properties as incomplete "placeholders" -- that is, filed by the HPBC just prior to approval of the NCCD in order to claim "base zoning" rules for the tracts. Penn said the church -- "or rather, HPBC Inc." -- "specializes in fait accompli, which is French for 'We done it to you.'" He said the association is waiting for the church's revised plans before deciding how to respond.

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