NORTHFIELD CENTER — A small church congregation plans to relocate to the township after the board of zoning appeals granted a conditional use permit for it to move into a unit in a commercial building at 9425 Olde Eight Road.

The site is just north of Leonard Avenue, near the Dragon Garden restaurant and Footnotes Dance Center and just west of the Nordonia Middle School running track and soccer field.

The church is called the Christian House of Prayer. According to Pastor Saeed Uqdah, it has been in existence for about four years and currently operates out of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Beachwood.

"We love Beachwood, but we need to expand, especially our children’s church program, and this location fits our needs," said Uqdah, who noted the church has about 20 to 25 active worshippers. The new space measures 1,800 square feet.

Uqdah said there are nine units in the commercial complex, and the church will occupy No. 9. He said use will mostly take place on Sundays for worship services. There are no plans to operate a Christian school or provide daycare services on the site.

Township Zoning Inspector Don Saunders said if the church eventually plans to offer those types of services, a separate conditional use permit would be needed from the board of zoning appeals.

"We are looking to teach the gospel, help area people and enrich singles and families," said Uqdah, who added he was born and raised in Cleveland, graduated from high school in 1983, and served in the military in Texas and in a civilian capacity in Kuwait.

One neighbor who spoke at the public hearing, along with BZA member Vern Rudder, said they have no issues with granting of the permit. BZA members Rick Patz and Mark Kaminicki joined Rudder in favoring the permit.

Saunders said before the church can use the space, an inspection by the fire department and an occupancy permit are necessary. 

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or