Three months after the House of Yahweh lost an appeal to expand its facilities because of a technical oversight, the Lawndale soup kitchen won approval from the city’s Planning Commission to put up an even larger building on the same site near City Hall.
The Planning Commission listened to testimony Wednesday from about a dozen people who were evenly split in their support and opposition to the project before voting 3 to 0 to approve the new plans. Commissioner Melissa Bergstrom was absent.
Construction on the earlier project was halted in May when planning officials discovered that the building would be too close to the sidewalk. Zoning regulations require new buildings near the civic center to sit behind a 10-foot strip of landscaping. The new building at 147th Street and Burin Avenue will contain a 10-foot setback but will extend an additional 19 feet toward the back.
Sister Michele Morris, executive director of the House of Yahweh, said the charitable organization lost more than $30,000 as a result of the city’s mistake. She called the Planning Commission’s decision Wednesday “a step forward.”
“I feel very, very good about it,” Morris said. “The city is reaching out.”
The two-story project and existing building combined will encompass 5,466 square feet, about 400 square feet larger than the earlier project would have been. The buildings will contain an expanded dining room, additional office space, storage areas, a patio and four showers and restrooms. The site also will have 12 parking spaces, one more than required by city zoning laws.
The new building will allow the organization to feed more people from its soup kitchen, which currently provides lunch and dinner for about 150 people every day except Sunday. It also will allow the House of Yahweh to expand its grocery giveaway program, which currently serves about 35 families a day.
The Planning Commission’s decision will become official after a 15-day waiting period, during which opponents can appeal. The waiting period began Thursday.