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Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Norge will soon become more than a place to break bread — it will be a place to bake bread.
On Tuesday, the James City County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a special use permit for the church to open its own commercial kitchen.
Rev. James Nickols, Our Saviour’s senior pastor, applied for the permit on behalf of his church, which he says is looking to expand its ministries and open its doors to aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs.
“We are always being asked by organizations about using our kitchen to start up entrepreneurial things,” Nickols said. “All we want to do is to be able to help people to start up a business and then relocate somewhere else.”
That “somewhere else” will be a key element of the kitchen’s special use status. According to the permit’s conditions, the kitchen must be “secondary to the place of public assembly” and “not occupy its own stand-alone building.” Any income or property associated with the kitchen will be taxed, unlike the church, which is tax exempt.
“That income, that function — the catering company that is there and the property that is used for that catering company — [is] taxable,” said Richard Bradshaw, the county’s commissioner of revenue. “Both the real estate and personal property for that particular endeavor will be taxed.”
Before opening the kitchen to the public, the church’s property had to be rezoned from general residential to low density residential. At its July 6 meeting, the JCC Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of rezoning the property. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors followed the Commission’s recommendation and unanimously approved rezoning the church.
“We were restricted as to what they could do,” Nickols said of the businesses that had approached the church about the kitchen prior to its rezoning. “This opens up the door so we can help an entrepreneurial individual get started.”
Aside from its catering enterprises, the commercial kitchen will enable the church to participate in the Community of Faith Mission, an emergency shelter ministry that feeds and houses the homeless during the winter months, and enhance its Senior Champions Program, an adult day care service for senior citizens with mild dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Nickols said.
“The primary mission of the kitchen is to support our outreach ministries,” he said. “We wanted commercial grade equipment to do that.”