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Repairs required to keep food ministry

Landscaping timbers and shrubbery are piled near a sign at the "Not 1 Missed" food ministry on West Broadway. The Mayfield Board of Zoning Adjustment ruled it will allow the ministry to continue to operate in the building if repairs are made but expressed a desire to see it move into a different building when possible.

SHELLEY BYRNE/The Mayfield Messenger

BY SHELLEY BYRNE sbyrne@mayfield-messenger.com

A former Mayfield elementary school may continue as a food ministry for now if the building and surrounding landscaping are updated, but city officials hope the nonprofit will eventually move elsewhere.

Joey Green has run the "Not 1 Missed" food ministry at the former Sparks Elementary School at 1204 West Broadway for two years. The third Tuesday of each month the ministry distributes food to those in need of it. The Mayfield Board of Zoning Adjustment ruled Jan. 30 that the distribution may continue, but only under certain conditions.

"We have no problem with the food distribution and helping people," said John Poole, Mayfield community development and planning director. "However, we want that to be done in a safe environment and also an environment that helps that neighborhood. That's what we're striving for."

On Nov. 14, the city's condemnation board ordered that the entire building be demolished because of "deteriorated and unsafe conditions." Instead, Green obtained a demolition permit and tore down part of it, creating additional room for parking.

Work at the building is ongoing. Improvements have included placing red metal siding over a portion of an exterior wall and removing overgrown landscaping.

"During the past few years the City has received complaints regarding the deteriorated conditions and property maintenance concerns at this location," a report written for the board meeting says. "The complaints led to the City's Condemnation Board ordering that the entire building be demolished."

The building is owned by Tina Halpain, who pays for utilities, insurance and associated costs for the food ministry to operate. Poole noted that many of the complaints about the building's condition pre-date Halpain's ownership.

"There have been several years of complaints by the neighbors of the substandard conditions there," he said.

The report notes that although Green had not submitted a site plan or business plan for the staff's review, he had indicated he will improve the property so that it will not be a neighborhood nuisance.

The property is zoned P-1, which includes office and professional use for service business such as dentists, lawyers, insurance sales and barbers. The zoning also allows permitted uses as churches, funeral homes and nursing homes when approved by the board of zoning adjustment.

A food ministry is not in compliance with the zoning, Poole said.

"We think there is a higher and better use than this, and we're going to work with them to try to find a more suitable location for their food ministry," he said. "As we've said before, we think the food ministry is commendable. It's just not the best use for that kind of structure, where it's currently located."

The report notes, "There is a definite need for food ministries such as this, and if the applicant could make it aesthetically pleasing, and not a nuisance to the surrounding area, it could operate at this location on a temporary basis."

The conditional use permit the board granted Jan. 30 is for three years, but, as with any permit, the city may review it at any time.

"Hopefully, in a three year period the food ministry could find a more suitable location, and appropriate development would occur," the report reads.

For the ministry to continue, the board determined the remaining portions of the building must be brought into compliance with building and related codes.

Specifically, the report notes, requirements include:

• Food distribution continuing only one day per month from 4 to 6 p.m.

• Providing adequate on-site parking and not allowing parking on 18th Street.

• Covering all bare dirt wih grass or plants

• Providing adequate trash receptacles.

• No outside storage.

• Complying with city codes regarding all signs.

Poole said landscaping between the building and the house to the west is necessary, perhaps with a fence that matches some existing fencing.

Exposed concrete blocks need to be painted, he said.

"There is a lot of trim work that needs to be done where they have torn off parts of the building," he said.

Cleaning up the parking lot and striping it are also necessary, he said.

"What we're waiting for is to see if they follow through in a timely manner to see if they do the landscaping, painting and other repairs to the building," Poole said. "We will also do a fire safety inspection to make sure the exits are adequate and fire extinguishers in place."

Poole noted that the city previously offered the former Morgan Haugh Clinic as a possible location, but that Green said it was not a good fit because the building needs a loading dock and access for a forklift.

Green did not respond to the Messenger's multiple requests for comment, but he told the Messenger in December: "We are going to keep on until we are shut down. You can put that in big print."

Green and his father, Harold Green, said that between the former school and Calvary Church, another distribution site, the ministry distributed more than 12,000 food boxes annually.

The building was once known as Washington Elementary School, and the portion of the building that was demolished was added in 1962. It was renamed Sparks Elementary in 1994 in honor of retiring Superintendent Don W. Sparks, who served for 24 years. Sparks Elementary was consolidated into Mayfield Elementary School when it opened in 2005.