Dayton Daily News

Plans to rebuild Lebanon church OK’d by council

City asks Bethel AME church to resubmit center, housing plans.

- By Lawrence Budd Staff Writer

LEBANON — The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lebanon, badly damaged in a fire just before Christmas 2017, is to be rebuilt at a new location.

But plans by the church leaders to oversee developmen­t of new homes around Pleasant Square Park, just north of downtown Lebanon, have been shelved, at least temporaril­y.

Last week, Lebanon City Council expressed support for plans to rebuild the church on city property on Cherry Street a few blocks north of where the church had been located for more than a century.

“We still envision contributi­ng to the health of the community by developing a multipurpo­se facility,” Church pastor Karen Schaeffer said.

City Manager Scott Brunka said staff would begin writing up a developmen­t agreement with Pleasant Square LLC, a corporatio­n formed by the church in

response to concerns of law director Mark Yurick.

In addition, Brunka said staff would put together another request for qualificat­ions for developmen­t of city property on Mechanic Street for single-family homes.

Last year, the city began working with church leaders who submitted a proposal to rebuild the church, and develop a community center, business incubator and single-family homes around the Pleasant Square Park in Lebanon.

On Tuesday, Brunka said staff and church leaders had agreed to “pull out the North Mechanic Street properties and reissue a separate RFQ.”

Brunka said the new request for bidders for the new housing would probably go out in March.

Also Tuesday, proposed rezoning for North Broadway Commons, another redevelopm­ent of city property by a developer responding to another RFQ, was sent for a final council vote. A committee has been formed to develop plans for a park in front of Berry Intermedia­te School along with the $18 million mixed-use developmen­t, on the other side of Broadway from the Pleasant Square neighborho­od.

Bethel A.M.E. in Lebanon was formed 150 years ago. The church at 111 N. Cherry St., remained the place of worship and meeting location for church members until the Dec. 13, 2017 fire, attributed by fire officials to an electrical problem.

The old, fire-damaged church property, in the parking lot behind Lebanon United Methodist Church, will be sold, once a new location has been secured, according to church officials.

Brunka also told council that a business incubator, similar to what is proposed by Bethel A.M.E. and run by a consultant working with the church group, was “very impressive”.

Mayor Amy Brewer said the new plan apparently had “100 percent support” from the city council.

 ?? JAROD LEE THRUSH / STAFF ?? Warren County investigat­ors say an electrical issue may have caused a fire at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Lebanon early Dec. 13.
JAROD LEE THRUSH / STAFF Warren County investigat­ors say an electrical issue may have caused a fire at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Lebanon early Dec. 13.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States