FARGO — Despite 18 neighbors signing a letter in opposition, the Fargo City Commission approved 4-1 this week a zoning change allowing the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church to sell its facility in south Fargo as a neighborhood office building.
The church is located along 52nd Avenue South by University Drive.
The letter written by Tom and Tara Morris and signed by 16 neighbors said they were concerned about increased vehicle and foot traffic in the secluded, heavily wooded neighborhood, as well as a possible increase in crime.
"There are only a few homes in the area and very little activity. It feels like you are in the country when you arrive in the neighborhood," they wrote.
The neighbors also wrote that "the (current) zoning was put in place to protect the neighborhood, its property values and quality of life. We, as a small neighborhood, feel like changing the zoning to help only one property owner sell their property would be an injustice to the rest of the neighborhood."
However, the church, according to Father William Rettig, has been trying to sell the property since October and most of the interest has been attorneys looking for an office. He said it could still possibly be sold to another church or a person interested in returning it to a residence.
Mayor Tim Mahoney and most of the commission thought if it was only an office, and not a retail business, the traffic wouldn't be of much concern.
However, Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, who was the lone vote against the zoning change, said he thought since it was a residential home before it was converted into a church in 1998 that it should be returned to a home. "It's an all-residential area," Piepkorn said.
The 100-member congregation has outgrown the building, according to Rettig, and has plans to purchase the Latter Rain Ministries Church at 1603 5th St. N. in Fargo, if they can sell their current home.
The current site at 1604 52nd Ave. S. has had several different churches occupy the site since 1998. Churches are allowed in single-family residential neighborhoods.
The city's Planning and Zoning Commission approved the zoning change last month.