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Mahanaim offers church property as gift to city

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council on Monday night will consider an offer from Templo Mahanaim Assemblea de Dios of Willmar to give the piece of land occupied by Mahanaim's con-demned church building as a gift to the city.

In a Nov. 19 letter, Mahanaim Pastor Hector Pinochet said he was authorized to put the gift offer in writing. Until a previous oral offer was made in writing, the city had said it would not halt the legal process to demolish the rundown church building at 707 Litchfield Ave. S.W.

Pinochet wrote that the congregation does not have the funds to comply with city orders to bring the property to usable condi-tions.

The council on Nov. 16 ordered Mahanaim to either make city-required safety and structural repairs to the deteriorating building within 30 days or have the building at Seventh Street and Litchfield Avenue Southwest razed and removed if the owners choose not to make the repairs.

The church property has been for sale for a couple of years. The offer covers only a 75-foot-by-150-foot parcel occupied by the church building and does not cover an adjacent empty par-cel that Pinochet said Mahanaim is interested in continuing to sell and help reduce debts to lien holders.

City staff members are recommending the council not accept the offer, but that further consideration be given if both parcels are offered. Based on a compilation of informal cost estimates, Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services, said it is questionable whether the proposal would allow the city to recoup demolition costs.

Also, he said 75-foot parcels are a non-conforming use in the general business district.

Mahanaim bought the building from a local law firm in 2001 for $375,000. The law firm had operated the building as an office from 1980 to 1999. The building, constructed between March 1920 and May 1921, had been home to First Covenant Church. In October 1979, First Covenant moved to its current location on Willmar Avenue Southwest.

The council will meet Monday in the chambers at 700 Litch-field Ave. S.W.

In other business, the council:

- Will hold the Truth-in-Taxation hearing and hold hearings for currency exchange licenses for Quick Funds and Ace Cash Express.

- Receive a presentation from Tim Miller on the Mid-Central Bio-Science Center.

- Take public comments during the open forum.

- Consider an ordinance allowing on-sale of wine at theaters.

- Receive the Finance Committee report.

- Consider revisions to the wind energy conversion systems ordinance.

- Consider a request to vacate and relocate a portion of a utility easement.

- Consider the final plat of Bethesda Nursing Home Second Addition.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150