In July the Linn County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 to buy the First Evangelical Church property in Albany’s Willamette Neighorhood. Today I learned that the county has changed its mind and the purchase is off.
A reader had asked about the status of the deal, and I inquired with the county last week. This morning I got an email from Todd Noble, the Linn County public health director.
“Unfortunately because of zoning issues we have decided to pass on the property,” he wrote.
When the commissioners voted to buy the church, the idea was that it might be converted for use by health department programs.
Commissioner Roger Nyquist voted against the purchase, but Commissioners Will Tucker and Sherrie Sprenger approved it. The purchase price would have been $1,450,000.
According to documents available at the time, the county would forfeit $50,000 in earnest money if it did not go through with the purchase. But that was based on certain contingencies, and the county now won’t have to pay it, I learned from county spokesman Alex Paul.
The property covers the entire block between First and Second avenues and Pine and Oak streets. It includes the 17,000-square-foot church built in the early 1950s, a single-family residence used as the parsonage, a parking lot with about 50 spaces, and a small park along the Oak Street side.
The property is split between two residential zones. The north half including the church is zoned single-family, the other half medium-density residential.
As I reported in June, to use the property for the health department or any other government program, Linn County would have to obtain a conditional use permit. Requests for such permits are handled by the Albany Planning Commission or a smaller hearings board, usually after a public hearing.
Evidently, according to Noble’s email, it was the zoning hurdle that scotched the deal. (hh)