A Spanish religious order signed a purchase agreement Monday night to buy the former St. Pius X parish property on Lovers Lane after the city Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use agreement for the former church, rectory and school.
Details of the sale were not disclosed.
According to attorney Joseph Almeida, who represented the Daughters of Holy Mary of Jesus, the sisters plan to demolish the former school building in the future and build a convent.
The sisters have been leasing the closed Catholic church for the past two years.
"The sisters are very positive about their future plans. They lead a monastic life and their need for living space is small. The construction is dependent on funding," Almeida said.
"This would be a formation house for girls interested in our way of life. Right now we have six sisters living at the rectory and a seventh woman plans to join us," Sister Visitation de Maria said.
"The Diocese of Steubenville fully supports the plans. We have had higher purchase offers, but the bishop (Jeffrey Monforton) wants to keep the religious nature of the property. We were actually contacted by an individual last week who was interested in the property, but I told him no because the bishop supports the sisters' plans for the property," stated attorney Tom Wilson, who represented the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville during the public hearing.
Kathleen Spinnenweber, who lives across the street from the property, said she supported the religious order and its plans.
"There is nothing negative to say about them. They are honoring our neighborhood with their presence," Spinnenweber said.
Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi recommended approval of the conditional use application with three conditions. Including stipulations that site lighting must be directed away from adjoining residences, signage must comply with the zoning code and, if a dumpster is used at the site, it must be screened from adjoining properties.
Following approval by the planning commission, the two sisters attending the hearing and the attorneys moved outside of Council Chambers, where Sister visitation de Maria signed the purchase agreement documents.
Wilson said the sale will be completed within the next 30 days.
In other business Monday night, commission members agreed to ask City Council to introduce legislation next week to create a neighborhood commercial district on Sunset Boulevard.
According to Petrossi the new zoning will eliminate the existing professional and business office district and will blend the current B-4 and B-5 district together while strengthening nearby residential properties.
"Our hope is this new neighborhood commercial district from Linduff Avenue to Pico Avenue and from Rockdale Road to Johnson Road will offer increased support for small business development on Sunset Boulevard," Petrossi said.
Petrossi announced a tree specialist from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will attend the Sept. 8 planning commission meeting to explain urban tree programs and how potential local legislation would help plan for future trees in the city.