Members of the Three Rivers Planning Commission are expected to handle a matter this evening regarding a special-use permit to allow a church to locate in a downtown storefront.
The proposal, being sought by Verse By Verse church, is the main focus of the 6:45 p.m. meeting.
At issue is whether downtown is a suitable location for a church. The matter has been vehemently opposed by Mayor Tom Lowry, local business leader Bruce Monroe and his family, and several members of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority. Opponents say parking-related issues, a precedent being set for additional churches seeking a downtown locations and whether the proposal meets criteria established by the planning commission.
Other opponents have said downtown should be reserved for commerce-related businesses that financially benefit the community.
The building in which Verse By Verse is seeking to locate is at 54 North Main Street and is owned by Tom Meyer, of Meyer Ventures.
Recommendation for a liquor license was given last week by Three Rivers Mayor Tom Lowry and city commissioners.
The license request, made by a microbrewery considering a location at 56 N. Main St., will go before the state for its approval.
During last week’s city commission meeting, an official from Zapf Brewing Company indicated a time frame of about eight to 12 months before the business would open.
The proposed business involves five partners, led by brewer Jon Zapf.
He told commissioners the business would offer beer brewed on-site, with appetizer-type foods expected to be introduced at a later time.
The Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority welcomed more than 10 new businesses in 2011 and was awarded a façade grant for two downtown buildings.
Christy Trammell, DDA director, recently provided the annual report to the Three Rivers City Commission.
Trammell said noteworthy achievements in 2011 included the establishment of a local historic district, a retail incubator program called Project Start Up, the acquisition of a $750,000 Downtown Infrastructure Grant from the state, acceptance into the Michigan Main Street program, the launch of a new website and a settlement with the provider of ineffective outdoor lights.
Trammell said the DDA plans a number of beautification and other projects in 2012.
The Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority has announced it was awarded a $750,000 grant for making handicap-accessible upgrades, and lighting and sidewalk improvements.
Bestowed by Michigan Strategic Fund, the grant will cover a large portion of expenses related to making the Downtown Mural Mall ADA-compliant to ensure easy access between Railroad Drive and Main Street. Steps currently in place will be replaced with a gradual, sloped walkway.
Three Rivers was one of six municipalities awarded the grant from a pool of 50 applicants.
The DDA has to put up a $190,000 matching amount to receive the full grant allotment.
The Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority last week approved the use of its cables for organizations wishing to promote upcoming events.
The cables, which are in place throughout the downtown section of Main Street, allow vertical banners to be hung. Use of the cables will be granted after review by DDA Director Christy Trammell and a fee to cover the time for the city’s Department of Public Services officials to hang and eventually remove the banners is paid.