MANCHESTER — City planners approved St. Catherine of Siena’s expansion plans Wednesday night, but not before taking the church to task for brushing off neighbors who were blocked in their driveways by traffic snarls caused by the parish school and day-care center.
“I was appalled by the (neighbor’s) comment, who said when her driveway was blocked and she called the church, the church told her to call the police — that they could do nothing about it,” board Chairman Michael J. Landry said.
“We made a comment to (the church) that that is not the way to be a good neighbor,” Landry added.
“They should be taking care of their own problems because they created them,” he said.
The fact that St. Catherine of Siena withdrew its request for a conditional-use permit that would let them reduce the number of parking spaces needed at its 207 Hemlock St. parish from 247 to 114 means “that message got across,” he said.
The parish also withdrew its request to expand seating.
Landry said he found a letter the pastor wrote the board last week detailing his efforts to get the problem under control “very encouraging.”
The Rev. Paul D. Montminy has called the city twice to get “No Parking” signs installed, has had two meetings with neighbors and plans to meet with his staff to try to institute “more orderly pick-up and drop-off procedures for children,” Landry said.
“I think we made our point” with regard to parish activities spilling over into the neighborhood to the point it devalued surrounding properties, he added.
Bell tower gets nod
Planners unanimously approved one conditional-use permit and the parish’s site plan application to build an 1,100-square-foot bell tower that would house a handicapped elevator and handicapped bathrooms.
The site plan approval is contingent, however, on the parish adhering to the promises Montminy made to address parking issues.
Montminy said he wants to build the elevator to improve the church’s handicapped accessibility.
He said he also would like to use the belfry to install the bell that once hung in the former St. Anne Church.
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Kathryn Marchocki may be reached at email@example.com.