NORTH PORT — Parishioners with the First Slavic Pentecostal Church in North Port got a better reception Tuesday from the city.
Commissioners approved church plans to build a large complex on 10 acres off South Biscayne Boulevard. The existing church and outbuildings currently sit on Tropicare Boulevard.
New plans are for a 45,500-square-foot church and storage/maintenance buildings, parking for about 400, bermed landscaping, a stormwater pond and infrastructure. The sanctuary itself would be about 15,000 square feet, enough for the quickly growing church.
Church leadership had asked for three zoning waivers on issues such as landscape buffering and unpaved parking, which were granted. And there were concerns about traffic in and out of the 900-member church, other small things.
But the overall project, which has an undated second phase and no firm time for breaking ground, drew praise.
“I am excited for you guys, excited for your growth,” Commissioner Chris Hanks said in closing remarks.
But things weren’t so rosy five years ago, when North Port turned down something similar. The church, whose congregation is mostly of Eastern European descent, had requested a smaller scale project.
“This would accommodate the current needs we have,” a church member, Anatoliy Olimpiyuk, said in presenting the project to Planning and Zoning commissioners in 2015.
The church’s youth pastor at that time, Igor Simontchik, also pushed for that approval, saying then that “we don’t congest in one area when we leave — I don’t see that being a big concern. As far as the building itself, we will follow all of the regulations.”
Still, the planning commissioners were not persuaded and unanimously denied the request.
But that disappointment vanished with commissioners Tuesday signing off on plans and the zoning waivers, Commissioner Pete Emrich only voting against a church request to leave perimeter parking as unpaved.