(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Located on E. Franklin St. just north of downtown St. Joseph sits the North Church of God. With a future expansion planned for Hillyard Inc., church officials are concerned that future development could impact the church.
Pastor David Chairez says that the church has around 30 members continue to grow.
"The church here is a growing congregation," he said. "We've been here for 90 years [and] we are looking ahead to the next 90 years."
As church officials are looking ahead to the future, the Hillyard expansion is something they are watching. The planned expansion would happen just south of the church and potentially impact parking for churchgoers.
"There's potentially a significant impact to the church and so we are definitely hopeful we can find a solution that will meet the needs of everyone in the neighborhood."
Hillyard's expansion includes the closing of a section of N. 3rd St., which is just one block away from the church.
"One of the questions that has come up with what/how parking will be impacted," David Chairez said. "How the roadways and traffic will be impacted and so those are the things we are looking at together with our neighbors to figure out how we all can manage those two issues."
David Chairez says that the church's members park on the street. There is space behind the building but it is not currently used for a parking lot.
"We have benefited significantly by the public on-street parking that has been in place for a number of years and so as we face any potential changes, we'll attempt to work with our neighbors and deal with those change, too," David Chairez said.
Church officials and Hillyard, Inc. have been in communication about the church's concerns.
"We are still in conversation with our neighbor about how all of that would shakeout and so we are looking forward to finding good solutions,” David Chairez said.
Hillyard Inc., released a statement Thursday about the church concern's. Here is what part of the statement said:
"The viability of the project requires street closures. The street vacation plan has been unanimously approved by the traffic commission, planning commission and the city council. During the April planning commission meeting, a representative from the North Church of God went on record saying that they would need to raise funds to pay for the repaving of their current parking lot to provide more parking. In addition to revitalizing 25 blighted acres, and in the spirit of being good neighbors, Hillyard has offered to pay for the re-paving of the North Church of God parking lot so it can support up to 14 vehicles, so the church can continue its ministry."
Church officials say the re-paving of the parking lot will not meet the needs of the church and that talks will continue on a solution.
“These changes, as any changes are very exciting, and we are looking forward to seeing all of the things come about, but at the same time it’s necessary for us to look at where we are and where we are going," Kari Chairez, the church's co-pastor said. "And make plans according to that the best way we can.”