Special use sought for church services
by BRIAN NADIG
An application for a special use to allow the operation of a church in the Jefferson Park shopping district may be filed later this month with the Zoning Board of Appeals.
In 2011 the city filed a housing complaint against the church because it had opened in a former butcher shop at 4709 N. Milwaukee Ave. without a special use permit, which is required for worship services under the B3-1 zoning of the site. The zoning is intended for retail and office uses.
Attorney Jillian Moore, who represents the property owner, said that the church has agreed to stop holding services until a special use is obtained. The church is seeking to hold two 3-hour services on Sundays and is not planning to use the building on other days, she said.
The church has an agreement to use the parking lot of Hoyne Savings Bank, 4729 N. Milwaukee Ave., Moore said. Under the zoning code, new churches must provide at least one parking space for every eight seats.
The owner of the building has led services for the church, according to Moore. A company controlled by the owner holds a retail food license for a banquet business in the building, but the building’s storefront appears to be unoccupied and there are no signs for the business.
Moore said that the church is Romanian, but Project New Life Church promoted in 2011 that it held services in Portuguese in the two-story building, which has several apartments on the second floor.
If the church is allowed to operate at the site, it could affect the opening of new businesses in the area. Under city licensing requirements, new liquor licenses cannot be issued to businesses located within 100 feet of a church, and new public place of amusement licenses cannot be issued to establishments located within 200 feet of a church.
An application for a license for packaged liquor is pending for a vacant storefront at 4701 N. Milwaukee Ave., but it is not known if a special use for the church would affect the status of that license.
City Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection spokeswoman Jennifer Lipford said that several factors would be considered and that a possible condition of a special use can be that new retail liquor licenses within 100 feet of a church would be permitted.
A spokesman for Alderman John Arena (45th) said that the church has not contacted the alderman’s office about the special use. Last year Arena opposed an attempt to convert the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., into a church in part because he felt that restriction on liquor licenses would deter the opening of new restaurants in the Six Corners shopping district.
Letters announcing the church’s intent to file for a special use were mailed last week to registered voters who live within 250 feet of the site. Moore said that a revised letter with a minor correction will be mailed later this month.