Bethel Reformed Church

The Sheldon City Council will set the public hearings regarding the future of Bethel Reformed Church during its meeting on Wednesday.

SHELDON—Bethel Reformed Church could be demolished to provide the construction of more housing in Sheldon at the site of the damaged building at 611 Seventh St.

The Sheldon City Council will set hearings for Dec. 15 during its meeting Wednesday, Nov. 17, on the ability to use $110,000 in urban renewal funds — $50,000 after signing, $50,000 after substantial completion and $10,000 for expenses such as engineering and surveying — for a minimum of $800,000 in taxable residential valuation.

Bethel suffered a third-floor blaze on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. The congregation has not held services at the building since the blaze since there was fire damage in the roof area while the lower floors had smoke and water damage. The cause of the fire was thought to be a light fixture in the dormer that shorted out.

The offices for Bethel have moved around and are now located at 604 Park St. The former church’s building, which was finished in 1953, has not been renovated since the fire and the congregation voted to look for new options. Bethel has been holding worship services at the Sheldon High School auditorium for the last few years.

Bethel owns four more lots east of the building on the 600 block of Seventh Street along the youth facility north of the church. The church building and the youth facility carry a combined value of $809,310, according to and the value of the four lots east of the church adds up to $28,710.

The lot across Seventh Street to the south also is owned by Bethel and encompasses the full block which used to be the site of Sheldon Middle School. The lot is valued at $83,440.

Bethel’s property at 611 Seventh St. was added to the urban renewal area on June 2. The city would provide grants to incentivize the redevelopment of the Bethel property. The development agreement would require the developer to demolish the existing church building, survey and engineering costs and install independent utility lines for an existing house and at least three new residential units.

In a memo for the city council meeting packet for the meeting from city manager Sam Kooiker, the urban renewal amendment has a ceiling of $250,000. Kooiker does not anticipate a request beyond $110,000, although a request may be possible especially if multifamily housing is built.

The property already is zoned residential multiple and there could be four single family dwellings, including the youth facility, or up to 16 apartments on the site with the youth facility removed. The agreement does not dictate what is built.

The meeting would only set the public hearing during the Dec. 15 council gathering at 4:30 p.m.

Bethel Reformed Church is not the only urban revitalization plan on the council’s agenda. There will be public hearings for the Prairie Trail multifamily residential urban revitalization plan and the Trilogy multiresidential urban revitalization plan. The amendments to each will add a new exemption schedule for properties assessed as residential with three or more separate dwellings.

The council also will see the updates for the capital improvement plan. The city plan is an annual update of the five-year plan and the emergency services will provide an annual update on 15-year plan. The three emergency services are the Sheldon Community Ambulance Team, the Sheldon Fire Co. and the Sheldon Police Department.

Other items on the council’s agenda include:

  • A resolution authorizing advancement of costs for urban renewal product for 229 N. Fifth Ave. cleanup.
  • Referring to the Planning and Zoning Commission a request from Ag Processing to vacate Railroad Avenue and adjacent rights of way.
  • A bid award for the first phase of the Sheldon Regional Airport fuel system project.
  • Pay request No. 2 of $100,254.42 for Crossroads North Phase II.
  • A resolution approving the 2020-21 fiscal year urban renewal report.
  • A 2021-22 fiscal year budget amendment.
  • An affiliation agreement between the Sheldon Community Ambulance Team and Boyden Ambulance.
  • A report from Sheldon Recreation Department director Jake Kerr.