Cemetery could revive Mormons' search for new Greenfield home

Oct. 16, 2012

Greenfield - A Mormon church group that was denied Greenfield city approval for a church site on 35th Street may have found itself a home in Greenfield after all.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wants to buy land at the northwest corner of Arlington Cemetery, 4001 S. 27th St., and build a church there. The cemetery has already asked the city to change its land-use plan to enable the church proposal to go through.

A public hearing on the request will likely be held in December.

The institutional zoning for the entire 100-acre cemetery already allows churches.

Cemetery officials were already thinking about alternative uses for five acres in the northwestern part of the cemetery as early as 2008. At that time, the city was finalizing its land use plan and cemetery officials asked that the five acres be designated for mixed residential, which basically is multi-family, said Chuck Erickson, Greenfield economic development and planning director. Now the Mormons are interested in the property but they need the planned use to revert back to community facilities as the rest of the cemetery is.

If the city opts to change its land-use plan, church and cemetery officials can finalize their discussions. Then the church can submit site, building and landscaping plans to the city in the usual approval process, Erickson said.

Establishing a church on cemetery land would mean no property would be taken off the tax rolls because the cemetery is already tax-exempt. However, the city isn't allowed to let those kinds of considerations affect its decision.

More than a year ago, the church was interested in 4.2 acres of vacant land on the southeast corner of 35th Street and Barnard Avenue in Greenfield as a church building site. Two of the four congregations that shared a church in Hales Corners wanted relocate there.

But several neighbors said the area is residential and not an appropriate setting for all the traffic churches generate. Plus, the site would have needed a zoning change to institutional.

Despite failing to win city approval last year, the church kept looking for a site in Greenfield because it is so centrally located for them, a church official said.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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