AFTER BEING DENIED a demolition permit, Catholic church officials have offered a former convent building at the corner of Pleasant and Union streets to potential movers for free if they pay the cost of moving. The effort has encouraged a few responses, according to All Saints Parish Business Coordinator Donald Leaver, but a price tag of around $100,000 has been a deterrent. The church will appeal a decision of the town's Village Review Board on Thursday night in hopes of acquiring a demolition permit.

AFTER BEING DENIED a demolition permit, Catholic church officials have offered a former convent building at the corner of Pleasant and Union streets to potential movers for free if they pay the cost of moving. The effort has encouraged a few responses, according to All Saints Parish Business Coordinator Donald Leaver, but a price tag of around $100,000 has been a deterrent. The church will appeal a decision of the town’s Village Review Board on Thursday night in hopes of acquiring a demolition permit.

BRUNSWICK — Officials at St. John the Baptist Church have appealed a Village Review Board (VRB) decision that blocked demolition of a former convent building next to the church to make way for a parking lot.

On Thursday, church officials will make their case to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals to ask for a “certificate of economic hardship” that would allow the demolition.

“We don’t have the money to keep it and it’s not in our plan,” said Donald Leaver, business coordinator for All Saints Parish, which includes St. John’s and many Catholic churches throughout the Midcoast region.

In applications to the Village Review Board, parish representatives indicated a desire to build a parking lot adjacent to the church to remedy a lack of accessibility for people with disabilities.

“The proposed removal of the former rectory building will greatly enhance accessibility to the church by allowing handicapped parishioners to drive right up to the corner of the building where the lift is located,” architect Scott Simons wrote to Leaver in a Nov. 30 letter. “The current situation requires that they park more than 100 feet from the door to the elevator and navigate a long walkway between the church and the rectory.”

Leaver said Tuesday that he found a January decision of the Village Review Board to deny a demolition permit for the building “surprising.”

That decision was made in a split 3-3 vote, which Town Planner Kris Hultgren said did not satisfy the majority vote required for approval of the demolition permit.

Board member Elizabeth Marr was absent from the meeting on Jan. 10.

Leaver said the appeal to the ZBA will not question the process of the initial permit denial but will request that the town allow demolition of the building that costs approximately $11,000 annually to maintain.

In a commercial property evaluation, the building was estimated to be worth around $110,000, with a cost around $230,000 to renovate.

Associate Broker Peter Harrington, of Malone Commercial Brokers, Inc., wrote in a Dec. 28 letter that the building “is in poor condition overall.”

The VRB’s finding of fact after the January decision indicates that the board found the building’s construction by local architect Samuel B. Dunning to be historically significant and that the church had not explored all options for keeping the building standing.

“Although the building is deteriorating and, according to cost estimates submitted by the applicant, would require significant financial investment to make it available for permitted uses, the applicant has not shown that it has explored all available options for repurposing the building, including sale, lease, collaborative use with other religious, civic or social organizations,” the VRB’s finding of fact states.

Leaver said he’s received one more call since January from someone expressing interest in moving the building, which the church is offering for free to anyone willing to pay the relocation cost. However, that estimated cost of around $100,000 has been a deterrent.

The ZBA will hear the appeal at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the town council chambers, 16 Station Ave.

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View the Village Review Board’s Finding of Fact in its 3-3 ruling below:



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