Meetings are continuing as the First Presbyterian Church, known as the Fish Church, looks to sell a piece of its land to a developer to build a 175-unit, 6.5-story apartment building on Morgan St.
The church's Pastor David Van Dyke said it hopes to use the funds from the 3-acre property sale to maintain its unique fish-shaped structure, rebuild its membership, and provide more outreach to the community. Pastor Van Dyke said in this day and age when many denominations are generally seeing a decline in membership, it's hard to pay the bills.
At the city zoning board's last public hearing at the end of April, there were residents who said they want the church to thrive. Though some of those residents also said they were concerned about parking and traffic on Morgan St.
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The board continued its public hearing Monday evening, where two residents spoke about parking concerns.
"It's a high-traffic neighborhood," said David Michelson, a Stamford resident who also spoke at the first public hearing held. "There's a lot of double-parking. There's a lack of on-street parking."
However, Jane Love, a resident and church member, said she believes there is "ample parking" at all times of the day, as long as "people are willing to walk one or two blocks."
"During the past two zoning meetings, individuals commented on the plethora of double parking on Morgan St.," said Love. "During my years walking on Morgan St., I did not see any double parking. I'm sure it occurs, but it is not a problem."
More importantly, Love says, the church is depending on this project to survive.
"We need the money," said Love. "If it's not approved, it would be a struggle for the church because sooner or later, the money will run out. This [project] is huge."
The project's attorney, William Hennessey, said the building "won't impact the road" because the design includes 40 additional empty spaces. Samuel Fuller, president of Fuller Development, explained further and said the complex will have 240 spaces total with 40 spaces not utilized.
"We are a scrap of the traffic that goes through Morgan St.," said Hennessey, in reference to all the other apartments, offices and hospital that sit on Morgan St.
"We just want to make sure the parking plans are the most efficient to keep everybody off the street," said Zoning Board member Rosanne McManus.
The zoning board concluded its public hearing portion on this application, but will not make an official decision until next week on Monday.