A local church that recently bought a building on Main Street will be appearing before the city planning commission today. City codes only permit a church to open in the downtown commercial zone if they have a conditional use permit. The planning commission is the first step in that process.
The planning commission will listen to both the church and its advocates as well any neighboring businesses that have any objections. It’s the planning commission’s job to  recommend the approval or denial of the request to the city commission who will ultimately decide whether the request is approved.
First Christian Church appeared in front of the planning commission in November and the commission recommended that their request be denied. However, the church withdrew the request before appearing before the city commission.
Community Development Director Jessica Scott said that originally  there were several objections coming from nearby businesses. These objections stemmed from their belief that the church would only be open on Sunday mornings and otherwise be  empty for the rest of the week. These businesses felt that a restaurant or store would be a better fit for the area.
Chris Frederick is a member of First Christian Church and feels that the objections were based on misinformation about their plan for the building.
“It was said that we wanted to open a homeless shelter and that’s just not true,” Frederick said. “We’re concerned about the homeless people in America and Ardmore, but we’re not opening a homeless shelter.”
He said their plan is to become a part of the Main Street community. In addition to holding Sunday service, their goal is also to open up their church for a variety of purposes during the week.
“If there’s an artist that wants to have a gallery space, they are welcome to come and use our facility,”  Frederick said. “We also think it would be a great place for pop up shops that want to experiment with retail goods.”
He said they would be careful not to schedule any sort of event during the busy times of day.
“We’re not going to come down there and create congestion or impede parking in any way,” Frederick said adding that he thinks their church could be a potential boon to business for downtown restaurants and coffee shops on Sunday morning.