Parking problems were high on the neighbors' list of concerns. They said the proposed expansion would exacerbate the already intense competition for street parking in the area.
"I have said consistently that if the church rebuilt the same size on the same location, no increase in parking would be needed," neighbor Russ Cogdill said. "If there is an increase, we need more parking."
The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee and the Planning Commission, which reviewed the project for impacts and design, recommended approval of the proposed Trinity Center, including the church's plan for off-site parking.
"Streets are for public parking; that means anybody," PTC member Dennis Myers said. "Yes, it is difficult, but we can't do anything about that. The church did everything we asked.
"I see no reason why they [the church] shouldn't be approved, and that was the opinion of the entire PTC."
City code does not require the church to provide additional parking for added ancillary church space. If the project was not a religious institution, an additional 168 parking spaces would be required under the code for a building of that size.
"It doesn't need to be separately parked, and I understand you [council] can't require it," said Tom Davis, church advocate for the project. "Trinity Center is meant to replace the Guild Hall which is old, leaky and doesn't meet our needs."
The center would have a meeting space of 2,100 square feet and classrooms totaling another 2,100 square feet. The remaining 3,640 square feet are devoted to hallways, bathrooms and storage, City Planner Scott Drapkin said.