A public alley splitting Trinity Lutheran Church properties has also divided the Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission.
The commission decided not to make a recommendation to the Rochester City Council after casting a 4-4 vote on a request to turn the 18-foot-wide alley over to the church, at 222 Sixth Ave SW.
“If we’re anticipating a further development would take place, there is some level of public interest in keeping that alleyway,” commission member Brittany Wilson said in seeking to deny the church’s request.
In the written request, church leaders indicate they are considering a future reconstruction project.
Commission member Kraig Durst supported turning the alley over to the church to allow the church to grow. “They’ve maintained it over the years, and Public Works hasn’t done anything to it,” he said.
However, some commission members questioned whether more details are needed regarding the church’s plans.
“I think ‘reconstruction project’ is pretty ambiguous, where they could be trying to get this strip of land so they could sell it to a developer who wants to build on this land,” commission member Krystal Gillespie said.
Wilson also noted public access could provide benefits for trash removal or pedestrian access, depending on what type of development occurs.
A former resident in the nearby Rochester Towers condos, she noted a private alley connects the public alley to Fifth Avenue Southwest, creating a path around the Poblo International Ministries building owned by Trinity.
According to the Rev. Joel Haak, Trinity’s pastor of family life, ownership of the private alley is split by the church and Rochester towers, which uses it to access a private parking lot.
Haak said options for the property split by the public alley are still being weighed, but the cost of developing conceptual plans led to determining what could be done with the alley before details are hammered out.
“It would open up different plans based on whether we got that or did not,” the pastor said the day after the Planning and Zoning decision was made.
He said the church’s 1,100-member congregation is growing, but it’s not looking to expand the sanctuary building. However, it is looking at other options for the church’s future.
“All options are on the table for us,” he said.
The fate of the alley is scheduled for consideration by the Rochester City Council on July 8, following a public hearing on the church’s request.