Planning Commission to church: Come back with better plans

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 3, 2017


TROY — Saying the plan was too imposing to neighbors, the Troy Planning Commission postponed consideration of a two-story, 19,167-square-foot addition to a church on Long Lake Road, east of John R Road, April 25. 

Bethesda Romanian Pentecostal Church officials submitted plans for the addition to their church on the north side of the property, adjacent to Tucker Drive, which included a multipurpose room, a gymnasium, eight classrooms and a kitchen. 

During his presentation to the Planning Commission before a public hearing, Ben Carlisle — of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant — said he recommended reducing the height of the building to 30 feet from the proposed 33 feet and increasing the setback farther, to 53 feet from the northern, eastern and western property lines. 

Troy Planning Director R. Brent Savidant told the Planning Commission that the applicants said they would reduce the height of the building to 30 feet. 

“We have not seen the plans for those,” Carlisle said, adding that planners found it “premature” to render a decision and recommended that the commission postpone making a decision on the plans. 

“Though a very nice and soft facade, the length of the building (176 feet) with a height of 33 feet may create an imposing structure along the northern property line,” Carlisle stated in his report. 

“It will have a lower profile than most homes,” architect Art  Kalajian said on behalf of the church. “The church has grown, and the youth need a place to hang out,” he said. “It’s not a commercial-looking building.” 

Resident Christopher Hausner, who lives on Tucker Drive, disagreed. He opposed the plans and expressed concern that the addition would decrease his home value. Hausner said his home would face a “three-story entertainment facility in a residential neighborhood.”

“I don’t believe it’s a good fit,” said his wife, Monica Hausner. “How can you say yes to a gymnasium located across from our homes?” She noted that Tucker Drive is a dirt road, and she does not believe it could support construction equipment. “I don’t think this property can suit this type of addition.” 

Deborah Tosch, a resident on Tucker Drive for 22 years, expressed strong concern for property values and suggested that the addition be built somewhere else on the church property. 

Planning Commissioner Carlton Faison questioned why the applicant “would put the building so close to Tucker (Drive) when they knew it would annoy the neighbors.” 

The Planning Commission unanimously voted to postpone consideration of the site plans to give the church time to submit plans showing the reduction of the height and changes to the landscape and setback. 

“There’s ways to be creative here,” said Planning Commissioner Karen Crusse.