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Fulton Church, Neighbors Square Off Over Driveway

Mike Larock, on the right, presents petitions signed by people living along S. 1st St. opposing the driveway for Believer's Chapel church to Alderman Bob Weston.
Mike Larock, on the right, presents petitions signed by people living along S. 1st St. opposing the driveway for Believer's Chapel church to Alderman Bob Weston.

Fulton’s Believer’s Chapel church lost its struggle Tuesday night to get a second driveway, in the face of polite opposition from the church’s neighbors.

The Fulton Common Council voted 4-2 to deny the church the permission to build a driveway 200 feet long and 35 feet wide from behind its building along Route 481 onto S. 1st St. Fulton’s Planning Commission gave the church its approval but a majority of the Aldermen were swayed by people who live on that street, who said the extra traffic would increase noise and dust and make the street less safe for the children and adults who use it.

The neighborhood has changed a lot in the last few years. For decades, the street was a popular shortcut from Rt. 481 to Broadway. The shortcut was short circuited when the city closed the road at the Huhtamaki factory so the company could build a connection between the two halves of its factory. Neighbors successfully fought to close a back entrance onto their street from the Golden Corral restaurant, which has been closed for several years.

Believer’s Chapel bought the former Masonic Temple and its 2 1/2 acres of land in 2004.

<p>Brian Goodfellow, pastor at Believer's Chapel church, addresses the Fulton Common Council</p>
Brian Goodfellow, pastor at Believer's Chapel church, addresses the Fulton Common Council

Pastor Brian Goodfellow said that “right from the beginning, it was a concern” to have an exit that did not open onto busy Route 481. He said that neighbors were not opposed to a driveway back when the church first bought the land.

But they’re opposed now. Mike Larock, who lives on S. 1st St., delivered petitions to the Aldermen signed by 45 residents of the neighborhood opposing the driveway.

“We’d like to see the character of our neighborhood stay as it is,” Larock said.

“This is a bad idea,” said S. 1st St. resident Andrew Hart, one of a number of neighbors of the church to offer an opinion at the public hearing. “We finally have settled that street down.”

Several members of the church offered their support.

“There’ve been many close calls with people pulling out of the church” onto Route 481, said church member Earl Sixberry of Volney. Making left turns onto 481 “is a bigger risk than kids playing on skateboards” on S. 1st St., said church member Chester Ford of Meadowbrook Circle.

Aldermen then took their turns making statements as they voted.

“It’s quiet now,” said Daryl Hayden, the Alderman who represents the neighborhood, as he voted against the driveway. “I don’t think it’s going to hurt Believer’s Chapel or the neighborhood if we leave things the way they are.”

“I would like to see both sides come together and work a little bit more on this,” said Alderman Jay Foster, who voted for the driveway.

“There’s some safety issues both ways,” said Alderman Russ Hayden, voting no. “With some time, you guys can work it out.”

Alderman Bob Weston voted yes, saying, “When a neighbor comes to me and asks for adriveway, I’m not going to say no.”

But Aldermen Tom Kenyon and David Guyer both voted no to defeat the church’s proposal.

The hearing was cordial, with neighbors noting the good work the church does in the city. Church members said they wanted to be good neighbors. And when the meeting broke up, people from both camps gathered in clusters to talk to each other.

“The neighbors are good people and the church members are good people,” said Mayor Ron Woodward, and the issue is almost certain to come back again.

5 Comments

  1. what do the children and neighbors use the road for. Roads are for cars not people. I dont see a problem with the church and the driveway. lets some of the people agaisnt the church try to pull out onto 481.

    [For what it’s worth, there are no sidewalks on that road and therefore adults and children have to use the street. Whether that’s a hazard or not, and whether the church would generate enough traffic to make it a hazard, is for brighter minds than mine to decide. – Dave Bullard]

  2. When the church bought the building they knew of the situtation of the driveway..It wasn’t a concern then so why is it now? The children play in the road and walk in the road because no one in the city knows where all the side walks are? Because they are not o our street. The traffice flow on this street is already overwhelming with people taking a short cut to route 481 the average speed on this road is 50mph. lucky for those drivers they no the police donot partol this area on a regular bases.
    Further more a 32 foot wide and 200 foot long is not a driveway it is a road. That is going to be a dirt road or maybe a stone road. We have several neighbors who have poor health condition that can not bear to have any more dust or dirt kicked up in the air. How would you like to live on the river and not be able to open your windows and doors in the summer months beacause of noise and dust etc.
    If the church truly wants this to happen then they need to start talking to the neighbor and not to the city

  3. To Mr. Weston I don’t think It was right that you got to voice your opion or even vote, Since your wife is head of the planning comminsion. Istn’t that a conflict of interest. Along with the other alderman who is a member of that church. I agree with the top post 32 foot wide and 200 feet long is not a drive way its a road. You are not talking about a faimly with a couple of cars you are talking about a busniess with a few hundred cars daily.

  4. I apologize I hvent been on that road in ages and forgot there was no sidewalks. My concern was my uncle had a house on that street and we never played in the road. The road is not for children to play in

  5. I agree that the street is not for children to play in.
    Just try going up/down Oneida Village Drive or
    Powers Drive and see the kids (even small ones)
    riding bikes, skateboarding,playing basketball
    and so on.And they don’t move until you get right
    to them or you have to go out around them.
    Parents should be taking their younger children
    to the park and watching them themselves instead
    of expecting everyone else to.And the older kids
    just plain know better. There are parks for them
    to use. Better police patroling and parenting is needed.

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