Archived Story

Resident requests former church be re-zoned

Published 11:14am Friday, October 11, 2013

The zoning restriction tied to a former church has one resident asking Ironton City Council “Why not?”

Juanita Southers, secretary of Resurrection Hope United Methodist Church, had a civil discussion with council members in regard to a church left empty after a merger. There is a potential buyer for the property but current zoning won’t allow the buyer to carry out her plans.

“I am here asking for a variance so we can sell the church,” Southers told council. “I have a petition signed by all adjoining property owners.”

Three churches combined to create Resurrection Hope UMC on Wyanoke Street and one of the empty churches is the former Sedgewick Methodist Church on Reynolds Street.

Paula Bellamy recently bought the house next to Sedgewick and now she wants to buy the old church.

“I would like to turn it into a wedding and reception hall,” she said. “I think it would be a great place to have those type things.”

Rich Blankenship, Ironton mayor, told Southers and Bellamy what they actually need is to have the property re-zoned, since variances only apply to property lines.

“I don’t really see what the difference between what we used it for and what she wants to use it for,” Southers said. “That building has been used for weddings, receptions and other things for years. The people who live around there want to see it stay a church.”

Michael Lutz, chair of council and vice mayor, told Southers that although the function of the building is not changing, the difference is a reception hall is a business and a church is not.

“People were charged a set fee to use the hall in the past and the owner will charge one as well,” Southers said. “The adjoining property owners prefer to leave the building as a church. It is a historical building.”

Councilman Ralph “Butch” Huff told Southers that historically if the adjoining property owners agree then “it’s usually not a problem.”

Southers’ request will now go before the planning commission during its next meeting.

Blankenship gave council a brief update on the condition of councilman Kevin Waldo, who collapsed during a finance committee meeting on Sept. 26.

“He’s getting better every day,” Blankenship said.

Council also approved a resolution for Blankenship to apply for and administer Ironton Riverfront Clean Vessel Act grant funds in the amount of $60,000 for mooring tie-ups.

Other action at the meeting included:

• The first reading of an ordinance amending the annual budget;

• The first reading of an ordinance amending the parking size in the City of Ironton to reflect the standards of state agencies;

• The first reading of an ordinance to re-zone a certain area of the city, which was tabled and referred to the planning commission by councilman Aaron Bollinger.

Lutz changed several committee assignments temporarily until Waldo returns and a short executive session to discuss pending litigation was held. There was no action taken afterward.

A 5:30 p.m. meeting of the council’s finance committee was postponed because of the lack of a quorum and rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

A special-called council meeting will follow at 5:45 p.m., the only purpose of which is to approve actions taken by the finance committee.










  1. swampcreature

    It sounds like she wants to eventually turn this small church with limited parking into a wedding chapel. If so, I have seen such a business on the outskirts of a major city and it was a neighborhood disaster. The person who ran that one picked up an ordination (non-Christian) via the mail and hosted weddings nearly every day. The neighborhood hated the business and owner. Cars were parked up and down the street blocking driveways and destroying home values.

    I urge city council and the residents on that street to oppose any rezoning to allow a business. It’s a residential neighborhood (and one of the best neighborhoods in Ironton) and needs to stay that way to preserve property values and neighborhood integrity. While this woman might operate a business there in a responsible manner, you don’t know what a future owner of the property might do after it gets rezoned.

    (Report comment)

  2. Digi

    Well I for one am confused because in one statement you are saying the neighbors are wanting this sell made, but then in the next paragraph you state the neighbors want it to remain a church. Which is it? And have you explained it properly that selling it makes the weddings and receptions now a private business and nothing whatsoever to do with the church itself? The prices charged to use the facilities would be much more than the church fees as it would now be hiring an entire wedding planner instead of just the use of the building alone. And if this church is a historical building shouldn’t consideration be given to that too? I would hate to see it get remodeled inside and ruin its historical merit. Seems there are lots of things to consider before rezoning anything for a business deal.

    (Report comment)

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