Attorney Michael Dowley, representing the applicant, told the Commission that since the Polish National Home is a non-conforming use (grandfathered into the neighborhood, it would not be automatically approved today), there was only one question, "Is this [APCO] use less intense than the use as the Polish National Home." He argued that since the Polish National Home hosts parties of up to 250 people, and at one time had as many as 750 members, while APCO has only 25 members, the answer was obvious.
Olga Gorey and Leon Klick, who are members of the religious groups currently using the Polish National Home, said that social clubs are not maintaining membership, "We just can't get young members to join." They argued that the conversion of the social club to a church was a good thing for the community. About 25 members of the public, mostly from the new church, attended the meeting to support the application.
Two residents of the neighborhood raised concerns about parking, and the possibility of a soup kitchen or homeless shelter being opened by the church.
Eunice Raynor, APCO pastor, said that the church was focused almost exclusively on outreach, "We are an outreach ministry. ... We don't plan to spend a lot of time in the building."
Dowley said that the church has a written agreement to be able to use parking at the mini-storage facility on Bretton, and thus has more parking available, for fewer members, than does the Polish National Home.
The Commission included an amendment to the application which restricted the use of the building to those uses included in the application. This requires the church to submit a new application in order to open a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in the building.
Chair of the Commission Quentin Phipps announced that the City of Middletown had officially dropped the lawsuit it had filed against the Planning and Zoning Commission over its approval of a zoning variance for the Public nightclub on Main Street (The Public went out of business despite P&Z approval).
Phipps invited discussion over the proposed ordinance aimed at making Middletown a more bicycle-friendly community. Planning Director Bill Warner said that a group of bicyclists who meet at Pedal Power to go on long rides had contacted members of the Common Council, and had appeared at the Economic Development Committee. EDC had supported an ordinance which was then discussed by Common Council. Council in turn asked for further review of the ordinance by a variety of commissions including the Ordinance Study Commission and the Public Works Commission.
Warner suggested that Public Works might object because under the ordinance all of their road projects would be subject to the advisory opinion of a committee championing bicycle traffic. He pointed to last summer's repaving of Wadsworth Street as an example where a bicycle committee might have insisted that sidewalks or bicycle lanes be added to allow residents to bike or walk to Wadsworth Park.
The Commissioners heard from Beth Emery, an Eye contributor and longtime advocate of alternative transportation; she said that support for alternative transportation came from more people than just the Pedal Power cyclists. There was cursory discussion about the ordinance, with Phipps cautioning against an ordinance which would aid a very small number of residents. He also said that he hoped that the purview of any bicycling committee would not duplicate the concerns of the P&Z.