Neighbors balk at wide ROW for church

Old Apostolic Lutheran Church still is checking out the possibility of moving to Franklin Township, but the issue of widening 90th Street, the neighboring road, is proving to be a stumbling block.

Many church members and residents of Franklin Township showed up at the Sept. 4 Franklin Town Board meeting to weigh in on the issue and listen to comments. Church members who also are township residents presented a petition asking the township to proceed with widening of the road right of way and improvements to the intersection.

Currently located in Minnetonka, Old Apostolic Church is filled to capacity. The congregation is considering relocation to 65 acres located in Franklin Township, west of 90th Street and County Road 13. This was the third meeting at which the width of the neighboring roadway was discussed. Church representatives have said Old Apostolic needs to solve the road problem before looking at other issues pertaining to the site.

However, residents attending the September meeting said they were not interested in widening 90th Street and increased traffic that a wider road would bring. They also were not interested in giving up land. They had no issue with the church being built there, and they were not denying access to the property. They simply did not want a wider road.

Church members asked whether Franklin Township could construct a 24-foot travel surface for the road in the right of way (ROW) currently owned by the township. Township Attorney Pat Neaton said the current ROW already is being used. The ROW is not only the traveled portion of the road, but also the ditch area necessary for maintenance and support of the road.

Neaton suggested that the church enter into an agreement with owners of property on both sides of the road. The church would need to get a surveyed description of what land is needed and what land adjacent landowners are agreeable to be used for the additional ROW.

Representatives of Old Apostolic said they thought that an agreement with landowners was not an option.

The next step, Neaton said, would be for the church to do a title search on the property in question. The church would need to petition the town board to alter the road. The petition must be signed by eight voters who live in and own homes within three miles of the property. Their properties must be homesteaded. The Town Board would set a time and date to view the property. If the board decides to proceed, it then would decide about compensation for property owners.

In Neaton’s opinion, if Franklin Township proceeds with the road, the township must have an agreement in effect that does not cost the township money now or in the future.

Church representatives asked Town Board members whether they were favorable towards the church locating on 90th Street. Board member Mike Barfknecht said he did not have a problem with the church.

Asked about their plans for the church building, Old Apostolic representatives said they want to seat approximately 1,000 people and also have a kitchen, dining room, Sunday School rooms and parking lot. They are looking at starting construction approximately three years after the land purchase. The goal is to pay for the land before construction begins.

In other business, the Town Board approved a variance request from setback requirements  for property at 77th Street S.E. The variance will allow Kim and Marcie Tuma to build an addition to their home, which currently is set back fewer than 200 feet from a lake. The Tumas must meet all planning and zoning requirements of Wright County.