A zoning application from Christian Meeting Room Inc., 5990 Taylor Road, may need more than a prayer.

A zoning application from Christian Meeting Room Inc., 5990 Taylor Road, may need more than a prayer.

City officials are trying to determine whether the property should remain Single Family Residential (SF-3) or be changed to Restricted Institutional District (RID).

During the Nov. 17 planning commission meeting, Bonnie Gard said the city had received complaints about parking at the residence where three church-related gatherings are held weekly.

Gard, planning and zoning administrator, was notified in September that the parking lot in front of the home had been substantially expanded.

"Pretty much the whole front yard has been done in a sealed surface," she said.

The city issued a stop-work notice concerning the parking lot, she said, but the work was virtually complete by the time the order was delivered.

When an inspection was done at the residence in October, Gard was informed the kitchen had totally been removed from the structure, causing it to become non-conforming as a single-family dwelling unit.

Jon Kenimer, secretary for Christian Meeting Room, Inc., said the group wants to comply with building code issues.

"We want to be good neighbors," he said. "We need to address the issues that have been identified. We'd be glad to work with the city, if landscaping or other items are requested."

Kenimer said those associated with Christian Meeting Room, Inc., call themselves "Plymouth Brethren," and they use the Taylor Road residence as a "satellite" for local families that bring about 50 people to the home for three one-hour periods during the week. They have a larger "main room" church in Columbus, he said.

"We don't need regular amenities you'd see in a church," Kenimer said.

His brother Joel Kenimer is in charge of maintenance and is the caretaker of the home.

He said there are 14 parking spots at the property, with eight to 10 cars consistently parked there for meetings.

"We were parking on grass, so we thought we should put pavement down," he said.

Bill Cross, of Kason's Way, said he's not against church, but it seems like Christian Meeting Room is asking for forgiveness after violations went unnoticed.

As an electrical contractor and a Gahanna resident, Cross said he has to abide by the rules and others should have to do the same.

He added that he made a serious investment in his home as did others in the Foxwood subdivision.

Cross said Christian Meeting Room should have provided a prospectus to show its intent for the property.

"I'm concerned it isn't just the cart before the horse, but the cart is in another county," Cross said.

Jon Kenimer said he understands there's an unknown, and the group hasn't done well expressing what it wants to do.

"Our wish is to continue using (the residence) as we are," he said. "Our long-term plan is to make it look more aesthetically pleasing. The desire of the church members is to make it more attractive."

He suggested a workshop to meet with neighbors and the city.

Commissioner Jennifer Price is concerned the number of people using the residence exceeds fire code based on the square footage.

Commissioner Joe Keehner said it's a "catch-22" one way or another.

"It will be problematic to meet requirements," he said.

Chief building official Kenneth Fultz issued an Oct. 25 adjudication order listing 11 items that need to be altered to convert the property back to a single-family residence.

Those items include equipping the structure with a kitchen, handrails on at least one side of the basement stairs and installation of smoke alarms.

If a zoning change to an RID is recommended by the commission, an adjudication order by Fultz lists 35 items that would need to be completed.

Commissioner Donald Shepherd said four variances would also need to be approved, even if the commission recommends the RID zoning change.

The commission has scheduled a workshop at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 8, to further discuss the matter.