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Church proposing coffee shop, gathering spot in Sharpsburg

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Representatives of Faith United Methodist Church will get a chance to amend a permit application to use a storefront on Main Street in Sharpsburg.

The church has a lease to use 800 Main St. in the borough, but its usage permit was rejected by the borough's zoning officer because a church is not an acceptable use for the town's business district.

The Rev. Tom Parkinson told council members in November that the church has bigger plans for the space, however.

He said leaders hope to operate programs out of the site during afternoons and evenings to help low-income families. During the day, he said, it would be used as a coffee shop. Though he said it will not be a retail operation, this would allow the location to have a daytime presence in town.

“We're thinking more of just an opportunity for people to come grab a cup of coffee, a community gathering space during the day. We hope that adds something positive to Main Street,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson said he didn't expect parking to be a problem because most visitors will walk to the site. He said someone from the church always will be on staff when it is open, but hours will vary at first.

“I imagine initially, our hours will be a bit more limited and as we develop, they'll be more regular and consistent,” Parkinson said.

Solicitor Michael Witherel said council could allow Parkinson to amend the permit application to provide more details of how the site will be used, and this will mean Parkinson won't have to pay to apply for another permit. Council agreed to that idea, and Parkinson said he would resubmit an application.

Mayor Richard Panza said having that location in use will benefit the borough. “It'll be nice on that corner, having somebody there,” Panza said.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513, or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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