An East Dundee church is creating a new parking lot to accommodate an increased demand from its congregation -- and the village's growing downtown.
Immanuel Lutheran Church & School recently acquired and demolished a dilapidated building at 305 Johnson St., which was previously used for automotive operations, representative Cliff Surges said. Church leaders now intend to level the adjacent property and construct a 37-space parking lot by this winter to be used during worship services and other functions, he said.
The village board on Monday agreed to waive landscaping requirements, as well as a $702 permit fee, at the church's request. In exchange, the parking lot will be made available for the public when the church is not using it, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said.
"Parking is definitely in demand in the area, so that'd help fulfill the need," she said.
East Dundee officials for years have been discussing potential solutions to a parking shortage in the village's downtown district, which has seen several new restaurants, businesses and private developments. Though the Immanuel Lutheran lot is on the south side of Route 72 -- a few blocks from the immediate downtown area surrounding The Depot -- Johnsen said it could ease the parking burden during village events and accommodate customers of nearby businesses, such as Made to Measure.
Though he voted in favor of the measure, Trustee Jeff Lynam said he worries allowing exceptions to the village code will set a precedent for future developers. Should a new parking lot be constructed in a more visible spot downtown, for example, village officials would likely be more strict about landscaping ordinances, he said.
"Those requirements are there for a reason," Lynam said. "It's supposed to apply equally from one side of town to the other."
However, Trustee Scott Andresen said each proposal brought before the village board should be considered on a case-by-case basis. The location and public benefit of the Immanuel Lutheran lot makes the church's request for waivers worthwhile, he said.
"I think it is distinguishable," he said. "We're tearing down an eyesore and basically paying $702 for a parking lot."
Surges said the parking lot is expected to blend in with the properties in the surrounding area while providing as much additional parking as possible.
"It will look so natural, and that was the goal," he said. "I don't know how this could be more of a win-win-win."