WATERVILLE — The City Council could vote as early as next week to rezone property on West River Road to allow for a bowling alley to be transformed into a church.

The Planning Board voted 5-1 on Monday to recommend the council rezone the property at 155 West River Road — the site of Sparetime Recreation — from commercial to residential.

Sparetime owner Andy Couture announced in September that he planned to sell the bowling alley property to Centerpoint Community Church and that the closing was scheduled for Jan. 5, 2015.

Churches are not allowed in the commercial zone, but they are allowed in residential and institutional zones. The Planning Board considered recommending that councilors rezone the property to institutional, but since the property was zoned residential long ago and all the properties surrounding it are now in that zone, it made sense to rezone it residential, according to Planning Board Chairman David Geller.

City Planner Ann Beverage said board member Paul Lussier was the lone opponent in the vote; board member Nathaniel White was absent from the meeting.

The property was rezoned from residential to commercial many years ago so that the bowling alley could open there, according to Geller.

The Planning Board may recommend zoning changes, but only the council has authority to make the changes.

Couture and Craig Riportella, Centerpoint’s lead pastor, said recently that after the sale, Couture would lease the building from the church for a few months to allow patrons to continue bowling until the end of April. Riportella said church volunteers would help Couture clear out the building before the church renovates it into a sanctuary, a teen center, a child center, a cafe and offices for about 40 staff members.

Meanwhile, Couture is looking for a site to help establish another bowling alley in Waterville, although he does not plan to own it himself.

Centerpoint’s name until last year was Calvary Church. Church officials initially had planned to expand its site at 60 West River Road, about a half-mile from the bowling alley. The church’s school, Temple Academy, of which Riportella is superintendent, is beside the current church and will stay where it is when the church moves, according to Riportella.

In other matters Monday, the Planning Board voted 6-0 to recommend councilors rezone 20 Industrial Road from commercial to general industrial to allow for an industrial use there.

Charlie Craig, who represented Retlew Investment LLC at the meeting, did not say what that use would be, and a phone call to him Tuesday was not returned.

The building on the property is the former Huhtamaki machine shop.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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