Lonsdale Baptist Church conversion (1/2)

A church on Lonsdale Avenue could be transformed into a four-unit residential building, as developer Terrapin Properties works out its parking plan.

LINCOLN — Two separate apartment projects proposed for Lonsdale Avenue are moving forward, but issues with the proposed parking areas persist.

The Lincoln Zoning Board met on Dec. 7 to hear from the developers behind the proposed projects.

The first, submitted by Jim McKee’s Terrapin Properties LLC, calls for the conversion of the former First Baptist Church of Lonsdale into a four-unit residential apartment building at 1568 Lonsdale Avenue.

Each unit in the 3,275 square-foot building would have two bedrooms. The exterior of the circa-1910 building will remain mostly the same.

To move forward, the developer will need a special use permit from the Zoning Board.

There were some concerns going into the meeting about the proposed parking spots for tenants, as well as the lack of trash and snow removal plans.

The original parking plan showed dual parking coming off Lonsdale Main Street, with a total of eight spots stacked in blocks of four. Members of the Planning Board were concerned about potential issues with ingress and egress to and from the spots.

Beau Akers, council for Terrapin Properties, brought a slightly revised plan to the meeting, and said they’d be open to returning before the board with a more concrete plan in the near future. The revised plan shows a similar layout, but with curb cutouts onto Lonsdale Avenue.

Some members of the board felt the revised plans were still inadequate, noting how challenging it would be to back up onto Lonsdale Avenue. The size of the proposed parking spots on the drawing were also incorrect.

“I don’t see this as an improvement,” said Steve Kearns. “To me, it’s a nonstarter to have cars backing out onto Lonsdale. I just can’t see that happening.”

He suggested they line the parking spots around the border of the property, allowing for a one-way path around the building.

The board also asked Terrapin to come up with a plan for trash. McKee indicated that the current plan was to have a dumpster in the parking area, and to coordinate with tenants to move out of those two spots on trash days.

Chairman David DeAngelis asked the developer to come up with a plan showing parking spots of the proper size, with safe navigation and the correct number of spaces, plus access to the dumpster.

“Those are the real hangups,” he said. “...there needs to be a bit more meat on the plate, especially with the safety aspect.”

Terrapin also owns the vacant lot behind the church, and it was suggested that the developer might use part of that empty lot for parking as the church once did. McKee said he’s still exploring the best use for that particular property, which slopes drastically downhill toward Lower Road.

Lincoln’s zoning ordinance requires that parking be on-site, so moving parking across Lonsdale Main would require an additional permit.

Three neighbors spoke at the meeting about the proposed redevelopment. One was worried about an increase in traffic, and said he did not want parking directly up against his house. The other shared some parking and trash pickup concerns, and said he already picks up trash on Lonsdale Main from absentee landlords.

Ultimately, the project application was continued to February. McKee was asked to return with a “more detailed and functional” parking and trash plan.

The other application similarly calls for a four-unit residential building at 1612-1614 Lonsdale Avenue. The applicant, Byron Orellana, is seeking dimensional variance for area lot relief, as well as a special use permit to convert the mixed-use building.

The building currently contains three residential units and one commercial space. Orellana is hoping to convert that office space into a fourth residence.

Parking issues also plagued this application, and the board asked the applicant to submit new plans showing the correct parking spot size. Lincoln requires 9 by 20 foot spaces, with two spaces per unit. The applicant agreed to amend the plans.

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