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Historic Church Aims to Expand

College Park AME Church

At tonight’s worksession, the Council will discuss an application by one of  City’s historic Church to expand its current facilty.

Built in 1920, the current Church is a single-story, 3,665-square foot, brick, “L”-shaped building.

Embry A.M.E. Church in Lakeland has applied for a special exception to build an one-story, 18 feet tall, approximately 1,603- square feet extension at the northwestern comer of the existing building. The proposed addition will contain offices, bathrooms, and other supporting rooms and will not increase the number of seats in the church’s sanctuary, nor the parking requirement for the church. A small shed along the southern property line is proposed to be removed. No parking is currently, or proposed to be, located on-site. In order to construct the addition, the church needs to obtain three things:

1. A special exception in order to have a church located on a lot size of less than one acre. The church is not actually proposing to increase in size and has long been located in the community at this location, but the construction of an addition triggers the requirement for a special exception. In order to be granted a special exception, generally the church must meet a setback requirement of 25 feet for each lot line, and the church currently does not meet this requirement. It only encroaches on the setback requirement on two sides, and the church is requesting a variance from this requirement on both sides

2. A departure from the number of required parking spaces. An on-street parking agreement, between the applicant and the City of College Park provides 50 on-street parking permits for the applicant’s employees and members. Four designated spaces along the Lakeland Road frontage of the site currently provide handicapped parking for the church. The Church currently has 28 seats and the proposed addition does not contemplate an increase in the number of seats in the church’s sanctuary and would not increase the amount of traffic generated by the church.

3. Alternative compliance with the requirements of the Prince George’s Landscape Manual. The Landscape Manual requires certain buffering requirements from adjacent properties, which the church is unable to meet due to the lot size. Instead, the church has developed a landscape plan with 10-foot buffers and a number of local and native trees.

The application is scheduled to go before the Prince George’s County Planning Board on May 31,2012, at which time the Planning Board will determine whether it will hold a hearing or transmit the application directly to the Zoning Hearing Examiner (ZHE). Upon transmittal to the ZHE, the ZHE will schedule a hearing and make a recommendation to the Prince George’s County Council for final review and action.

Staff is recommending that the Council support approval of Special Exception request with a few minor conditions relating to the architectural elevations.

The staff is also recommending that the Council support approval of the departure from the number of required parking spaces and alternative compliance to the requirements of the Landscape Manual.

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