Permits sought for church, grocery store

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Pearland City Council and Planning and Zoning held public hearings Monday night regarding permits for a church at 5004 Broadway St. and a grocery store in an industrial area in the 3200 block of Main Street.

“We are only receiving testimony; there is no decision-making at this point,” Mayor Tom Reid explained.

A church is proposed in a former Goodwill store in a west Pearland shopping center.

Leslie Padilla appeared to request a conditional use permit for Sovereign Grace Church on less than an acre in a tract zoned as Neighborhood Services district.

“We are rooted not just in Pearland, but in this specific community,” he said, stating the church now holds services about a mile away. “Up until recently, the building was basically abandoned. Most of the debris has been cleaned up and we plan on continuing that effort. On the inside of the building, we plan on installing walls for the sanctuary.”

City staff recommended the permit be granted, since “the intensity of the use will be less than the previous use,” will not likely cause any traffic issues for the surrounding shopping center and there are no other religious uses in the center, located near the junction of Broadway Street, West Walnut Street and McLean Road.

Pearland resident Anthony Miller was among congregation members speaking in favor of granting the permit, stating he is a resident of the area because of it.

“We’re pretty excited about the idea of being able to walk to church, and we do use the rest of the center,” he said.

However, a representative of the center’s ownership asked the council to deny the permit because of distance requirements regarding churches and the potential sale of alcohol.

“We are in the process of trying to find a restaurant,” he said. “If the church is there, we won’t be able to secure a restaurant anywhere in that center because they won’t be able to get an alcohol permit. If ya’ll allow this use, it is essentially prohibiting my ownership group to develop that center.”

City attorney Darrin Coker said the 300-foot distance rule can be eligible for a variance.

“They’re doing business at different times, Sunday morning vs. Saturday night,” Mayor Reid said.

Applicant Jose Urioste is seeking a conditional use permit on behalf of Rafael Ortega, who wants to put a grocery store and general retail in a light industrial zoning district on about 2 acres at the 3200 block of Main Street, south of Swenson Road on the west side of Main Street.

The proposed store is 10,000 square feet, with two more leased spaces, landscaping and drainage pond on the site. City staff is recommending against the request, stating, “The city has limited industrial zoned land, which should be (used) for industrial developments.”

Staff also said the proposed grocery store wouldn’t have significant positive impacts surrounding properties or add value to the area.

“This type of development should be located in a retail node, where there is density to support a grocery store use,” city documents state.

The public hearing drew one speaker, former Councilman Larry Marcott, who stated: “I’m opposed. Thank you,” and then sat down.

Councilman Tony Carbone pointed out the property was purchased 2 months ago.

“And now they’re likely not going to be able to do what they originally intended,” he said. “If anyone is listening. Have a pre-development meeting. If you don’t do your homework, we can only take so much responsibility for it.”

Councilman Gary Moore reminded the council a recent change in zoning that put residential near that area: “If we continue to keep changing zoning, it’s going to mess everything up on how these things are laid out. We should try to stick with some of the zoning that we have.”

Other councilmen largely agreed.

“I would like to invoke the Sherman principle since the applicant is not here,” Councilman Keith Ordeneaux said, referring to former Councilman Scott Sherman’s tendency to vote against requests when applicants didn’t make an appearance.

Though he was annoyed with the applicant’s absence, Councilman Trent Perez said.

“As far as I know, we haven’t had a huge push from any of the neighbors opposed to it. I don’t have an issue with the use,” he said.

Story by Nicole Jones

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