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GARDEN GROVE : Church Loses Bid for Site in Business Park

September 08, 1994|BERT ELJERA

The City Council has denied the request of a local congregation to open a church in a business park, saying it would jeopardize the city's efforts to attract more businesses and expand its sales tax base.

In a 4 to 1 vote Tuesday , the council rejected the recommendation of the Planning Commission, which in July voted to allow the Trinity Christian Fellowship to operate a church at the Cedar Grove business park on Garden Grove Boulevard.

The 20-member congregation, which holds religious services at an Anaheim hotel, proposed converting a vacant one-story building at the business park into a church, where services would be conducted in the evening.

But council members said that granting the permit would be an invitation for other churches to move into commercial and industrial areas. Because churches do not pay taxes, the city would lose sources of sales tax revenue.

In addition, city codes require churches, temples and other places of worship to be located on parcels of at least one acre. Granting permits for churches in business parks would violate this requirement, officials said.

"We're going to be in hot water from the Buddhist temple we've evicted from less than one acre of land," Councilman Bruce A. Broadwater said.

City officials recently ordered a Buddhist congregation to stop having services at a residence on West Street after neighbors complained about the noise and traffic.

Councilman Ho Chung voted to grant the permit, saying that the church, which plans to spend $60,000 in improvements to the building, would raise property values and add to the "spiritual awareness " of the neighborhood.

"I'm surprised," said Bob Wilson, a planning commissioner and church member, who abstained in the 4-0 commission vote to grant the congregation a permit. "We are embracing adult businesses but shutting the door on churches."

The Rev. Frank Domino said the congregation has looked for other sites over the past 15 months but could not find land or a building that it could afford to buy or rent.

Domino said the congregation has a five-year lease with the owners of the business park, and hopes to build a church before the lease expires.

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