A member of the United Presbyterian Church approached the Riverton City Council this week asking for help as her organization tries to sell its property on North Broadway.
The church recently asked the city to rezone the property so they could sell it to Path Wellness Solutions, a local behavioral health clinic that is looking to expand, but the council denied that request last month.
“(That) put us in a bad position,” UPC member Lori Weber told the council during a regular meeting this week. “We lost our sale.”
Now, she said, the UPC can only sell the property to the “very limited” types of buyers allowed in residential zones, like day care centers and churches.
“So tonight, I’m here to urge the council to look into establishing another zone, somewhere in-between full residential and full commercial,” Weber said. “Because we’re not the only church in town … that eventually will be coming before you and asking for something to (help them) sell.”
She asked the council to “imagine, that decades ago you were given permission to run a VHS store, and for decades you’ve run that VHS store, but now … there’s no demand for them, (and) you could only sell to a VHS store.”
“That’s kind of what’s happening with these very large churches like the Presbyterian Church,” Weber said. “A lot of people don’t go to church anymore. A lot of churches are going smaller, or online.”
Most of those churches are currently located in residential zones, she pointed out, so if they ever decide to sell their properties, they will face the same restrictions the UPC did, even though an interested buyer “probably isn’t going to be another church.”
“We’re still trying to function with the (zoning) requirements from the 1950s,” Weber said. “Please consider (a new zone), and hopefully it will work out.”
For more information call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.