Neighbors upset with plans to convert popular Ridley bar to church

RIDLEY TWP., Pa. (WPVI) -- A building that housed a popular bar in Delaware County could soon become a church and it's causing a rift in the community.

Barnaby's is selling its Ridley location on McDade Boulevard to a Christian center, which has some residents upset about its tax-exempt status.

It's a friendly debate that at times gets a bit heated.

"What are you going to do when one morning you come in and they are having church and they have taken every freaking parking spot?" said Judy Blair of Glenolden.

New Destiny Christian Center, located just a few miles away, is looking to buy the building and transform it into a place of worship. It's all the buzz around town. Some say no way to a church and expressed worry about lost tax revenue, homeless popping up for a soup kitchen and more.

"They need 174 parking spots. What is that going to do to the business along here? It is going to take all their parking," said Blair. "The other thing is, let's be honest, that has been a bar all its life and all of a sudden you are going to change it into a church? That is ridiculous!"

Those on the other side of this debate say a church is not a bad idea and one that they would welcome to the neighborhood.

"I am a churchgoer and I thought I would like to go help out in the soup kitchen when it comes and maybe even try out the church," said Sandra Anderson.

We attempted to reach the pastors at New Destiny Church but have not heard back.

On its website, the church says it's excited about the opportunity to move out of building it has been leasing for eight years and move into a building they can purchase and make a permanent home.

Some living nearby are all in favor.

"Honestly, I think a church is better than a bar," said Michelle Evans of Ridley. "I mean at least there are not drunk people. My husband's car got smashed one time, so I think a church will be better than a bar."

The debate might be short-lived.

Ridley Township says the church's request to buy the property has been denied.

In a message on Twitter, the township says the area is zoned as a commercial district and does not have enough parking for a house of worship under the zoning ordinance.

However, the church may still have a prayer in this decision as the township says New Destiny can appeal the rejection by the zoning board.

"I think people are just complaining for no reason at all," said Evans. "I mean a soup kitchen is helping people, a bar doesn't help anybody really."

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