WJA Public Hearing and Plans for New Building

The City’s Development Review Commission (DRC) held a Special Exception Public Hearing on Wednesday, May 2. The purpose was to discuss and approve/disapprove a WJA request for an exception to city zoning.  WJA requested that their new building have a 37% residential component (in 10 living units) rather than the 25% in the city code. UUSP was fortunate to have eight members and the minister attend.


Several UUSP members had questions about the WJA plan, many of which focused on UUSP members having enough parking spaces and on the new building having six stories. After much discussion, the following amendments were added and approved: 1) no dumpsters in the alley, 2) no construction equipment in the parking area, 3) no construction work during Sunday services, and 4) clear signage for “UUSP Parking Only” for 15 reserved spaces on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The Special Exception was approved by the commission.


Regarding six stories: during the 12 months of UUSP debate about the parking lot, WJA submitted three different proposals to UUSP, of which one was rejected, another was withdrawn, and the third one passed. These various proposals contained a number of design possibilities, including a 10-story building (which was unacceptable) along with 3, 4, and 5 story designs. The final agreement negotiated and approved by the Board did not include a design requirement. WJA explained that it had submitted a plan to the City for five stories, but the City required that the fifth story must be set back by 20 feet, so that six stories were then needed to accommodate the same amount of space. The setback requirement is to avoid encroachment on UUSP’s environment and is standard in some other cities. WJA said that because floors five and six must be set back, they wouldn’t be visible from the church and it would look like a four-story building.


Regarding parking: we don’t entirely know the future about cars or parking or even church size and activity - and we won’t, since it’s an organic process. UUSP already enjoys extensive additional parking in neighboring lots. As for daytime parking, the vast bulk of our programming happens in the evening and if we need to be sure of more daytime parking for any given event, our agreement with WJA is that we will consult and work that out. I think we discussed and negotiated that very well months ago and the matter was settled by both a board and congregational vote.


I believe the outcome is consistent with UUSP’s agreement with WJA, and for UUSP it looks excellent. The new design looks innovative and beautiful, and it enhances our neighborhood in many ways.


From mid-June to late-July the parking lot will be renovated and, in the fall, WJA’s building construction will begin. We are working with our neighbors to ensure UUSP parking during the renovation. The Board will stay in close communication with WJA in order to keep the UUSP congregation informed of progress.


The entire DRC report (including the site plan and site views from all four directions) and the renderings are available for you to read on our UUStPete website under the Get Involved! tab, then Documents.  We have put the links to these documents below.

Special Exception Hearing - WJA

WJA Building Rendering


Paul Burnore, President

Board of Trustees

Contact: Paul Burnore
Posted on May 4, 2018, at 12:50pm