Euzoa Bible Church got a little breathing room to continue holding worship services and other church activities at its Strawberry Park location Thursday night.
The church asked the county to ease some of its restrictions while it looks for a new home.
The Routt County Planning Commission agreed to relax a few conditions that Euzoa representatives argued were problematic. Planning commissioners voted 5-3 to go along with some of the changes church leaders proposed to help the church adhere to county rules.
"We have to allow them a chance to leave in an organized manner," Commissioner Wayne Adamo said.
Church leaders decided earlier this year that it was time to relocate the church from its rural setting to a more urban location in or near Steamboat Springs.
The property went on the market a few months after the county denied Euzoa's request last fall to build a sanctuary to accommodate its growing congregation.
But selling the 28-acre parcel at the base of Buffalo Pass could take some time.
The church asked the county to modify some of its current regulations so it can continue to minister to the community in the interim.
Euzoa's neighbors aren't so convinced the church merits any leeway.
Nearby homeowners argued that Euzoa's failure to comply with current county regulations did not warrant more generous regulations.
"We're baffled with this lack of concern for the rules," Strawberry Park Group president Millie Beall said.
The Strawberry Park Group, which represents many of Euzoa's neighbors, asked the commissioners to deny the church's proposed changes.
People who live nearby have no assurance the church will leave Strawberry Park once the county approves more lenient conditions, she said.
"The neighbors are willing to work with the Euzoa folks while they make the exit from the park," Beall said.
Neighborhood angst about the church concerned Commissioner Ken Brenner, who voted to deny Euzoa's request.
"It is extraordinarily important to get along with your neighbors," Brenner said.
Chris Spradlin, who leads Euzoa's Saturday evening service, stressed the church is taking steps to appease its neighbors and follow the rules.
"I can't buy it," he said of criticism that the church had done nothing to correct perceived problems.
Combined Saturday night and Sunday morning attendance is pushing 350 people, so the church is aggressively looking for an offsite location to hold the Saturday night service.
A move can't realistically happen until early fall, said Charles Feldmann, a church elder who spoke on behalf of Euzoa.
The Planning Commission allowed the church to continue holding its Saturday night service at its Strawberry Park location until early fall. Euzoa must take the popular service somewhere else by Sept. 6.
"I really hope before three years is over that you find a new home," Adamo said.
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