By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer
The Portales City Council voted Tuesday to approve a special use permit that will allow the University Drive Church of Christ to build a new church on U.S. 70.
The proposed building would be located between the Super 8 and Holiday Inn Express on approximately four acres, according to documents provided at the meeting.
Sammy Standefer, planning director for the city, said some concerns with a church or school are that it limits other uses in the area, such as alcohol sales, and traffic.
Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. asked about the number of people who would be using the facility.
Standefer said the proposed building is 8,328 square feet, but that no architectural plans have been submitted.
“Code regulates the number of parking spaces for a building that size,” he said. “With four acres, I don’t think they’ll have any problem.”
Councilor Shawn Watson asked if the building would face U.S. 70.
Ken Morrison, an elder with the church, said the auditorium would face U.S. 70, with classrooms behind.
City Attorney Stephen Doerr told councilors they were only allowed to consider the facts presented by the Planning Department when making a decision on a special use permit.
Ortega and Councilor Mike Miller noted that city officials did not have the minutes of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing on the topic.
Standefer said during the public hearing, no one objected; however, one man didn’t want the church to impact the use of his land.
Doerr told councilors that they had to take action on the request or hold another public hearing.
“It would be nice to have a little more,” Ortega said to Standefer. “You generally do a good job of providing minutes for more detailed explanation.”
Councilors voted 7-0 in favor of the special use permit, with Councilor Alfred Bachicha absent.
In a separate interview, Morrison said the church is planning a new building because “we’ve pretty much outgrown the building we have.”
When the church moves, it likely will change its name, he said.
In other action, councilors approved:
• A non-exclusive agreement with the Portales Bowhunters Club, effectively leasing city-owned property near the corner of U.S. 70 and Cacahuate Road, as well as allowing use of the Portales Recreation Center.
• A resolution accepting a $15,000 grant from the New Mexico Environment Department for cleaning refuse containers.
• A resolution authorizing the mayor to sign a capital cooperative agreement with the N.M. Department of Transportation for a $50,000 legislative appropriation for road improvements on North Abilene Avenue.