Property use would be ‘much the same’ after construction
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The proposed construction of three separate additions for the Nativity of Our Lord property, located between South Pelham Street and Conro Street along East King Street in Rhinelander, received the backing for a conditional use permit Wednesday by the city’s Planning Commission.
City fire chief/building inspector Terry Williams said the property is zoned B-2 (Central Business District), for which a church or school is a conditional use.
“They want to expand their footprint with these additions in hopes to maybe someday combine Nativity of Our Lord, the two locations,” he said. “They need a conditional use (permit) to do this expansion.”
Williams also noted the building plan fits within the required setbacks.
As outlined in Nativity of Our Lord’s conditional use request put together by Groth Design Group, the parish is planning to remodel its current worship space with additions on the north, east and south side of the property.
The worship remodeling would consist of demolishing the balcony to create room for a gathering space at the south end of the nave, a new pew layout, modifying the alter to make it handicap accessible, updating the sacristy and accessory spaces, a new adoration chapel and entrance off Conro Street, and an upgrade to the existing mechanical and electrical systems.
The renovation would also allow the parish to separate school use and church functions for security of school programming.
The conditional use request further notes the proposed building modifications would reduce the maximum occupancy for the church and school by 268 from the current operations. Compared to the current worship space with a total occupancy of 908, the new worship space would have a total occupancy of 612, or 296 less. However, an additional 28 occupants would be factored in for the multi-use room located in the south addition.
Commission members agreed to allow the current parking arrangement for the property with the proposed reduction in total occupancy. Williams pointed out available parking for the church and school includes an existing lot on the property along with a nearby public parking lot as well as street parking.
“People are going to park where they are used to parking, or where it’s closest,” said commission member Sandra Bergman. “I think this parking, in this case with a conditional use, would be a non-issue for me.”
Nativity of Our Lord’s pastor, Father Randy Knauf, said there would be very little change as to how the property would be used upon the construction of the three additions.
“The difference is that some of the space between buildings will be used for bathrooms and a couple of additional meeting rooms,” Knauf said. “Other than that, the way we’ve been living here in the downtown area will continue much the same with the hope that eventually we can move our north campus down to this site, too, which won’t be a change in the church use. It will simply be a few more of our students will use this campus for school.”
The conditional use permit requires final approval by the full City Council, which has its next meeting set for April 10.