NORTH ADAMS -- Artist Eric Rudd is asking for flexibility in the city's parking ordinance so he can move ahead with plans to turn the former First United Methodist Church into a museum full of his work.
"[North Adams is] well-supplied with parking spaces, so I don't think it's an issue," Rudd said in an interview Wednesday. "But unfortunately there's an ordinance we've run up against."
The Planning Board, at a meeting Monday, delayed approving Rudd's plan in light of the city's parking ordinance, which states that lands in a neighborhood commercial district require one parking spot for every 250 square feet of building.
"The [board] asked Mr. Rudd to go to the [Zoning Board of Appeals] to discuss with them his parking plans," said member Paul Hopkins on Wednesday. "... The upshot is it doesn't meet [city] requirements."
According to Hopkins, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is the one authority that can waive parking requirements.
The former church, located at 134 East Main St., has no parking, and given its size, would require 60 to 80 added spots if the ordinance were to be followed.
But this isn't in the cards, Rudd said. He refuses to pave over the "beautiful grass lawn" to create parking he feels would be superfluous, given the existing availability downtown.
He cited a yet-to-be released study undertaken by the city and several partners that found "2,380 parking spaces in the downtown area, all within a five minute walk."
The figure amounts to 38.6 percent of the downtown devoted to parking, Rudd said, and comparing it to 24 percent in Los Angeles.
"I'm going to go to the [ZBA] and say we can do what I'm proposing or sell [the building] for pieces and parts," Rudd said.
The Barbara and Eric Rudd Foundation bought the church late last year and have since undertaken repairs, most notably exterior facade work.
Rudd hopes to open a free museum there full of work he created over the past fifty years by summer 2014 -- the Rudd Art Museum. He thinks it would compliment Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and help attract visitors downtown.
But he said the board's reception -- which included complaints from City Councilor John Barrett III over a sign teasing the proposed museum that's been placed in the front lawn of the former church -- puzzled him.
"You'd think [people] would jump for joy with these plans after the building was empty and on sale for more than two-and-a-half years," he said. "... Not one person representing the city said anything positive."
Rudd is to go before the ZBA on July 15. After that, his proposal will return to the Planning Board in August.
In other business at Monday's meeting, the board unanimously approved close-out retailer Ocean State Job Lot's site plan for the former Wal-Mart building on Curran Highway. The chain now has all the necessary permitting to open a branch there.
It will split the 94,000-square-foot space with Tractor Supply Inc. and a yet-to-be determined third tenant. Hopkins said "a fair amount of interior construction" is planned but that the outdoors will remain mostly the same apart from signage and a few other designs.
To reach Phil Demers, email