In a pair of meetings last week, the Denison Planning and Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustments approved two requests by Waples Memorial United Methodist Church related to the construction of a new emergency response building. The structure will be used to house the church’s emergency response vehicle, equipment and vehicles for the local Boy Scouts troop and a public meeting space, officials said.

Kim Huff, mission and outreach coordinator for the church, said for the past four years it has used its emergency response vehicle — a 18-foot by 10-foot trailer — in humanitarian efforts following natural disasters. In 2017, a team of church members offered assistance four times, most recently during the recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

“It is a team that anyone can be a part of — young or old — because we are there to show the Christian response,” Huff said in a phone interview.

Officials with the church said the building will be more than 3,000 square feet and feature enough room for storage for supplies related to the church’s relief efforts, vehicles used by the local Boy Scouts chapter, the church bus and space for multi-use meeting spaces. Huff said the building may also include additional office space for the church and restrooms.

Huff said the building will allow the church to store the trailer, which previously has been housed on private property, on site at the church. Huff added that the church has also had issues in the past with animals getting into the engine compartment of vehicles that had been left outside for an extended period of time.

During a morning meeting, P&Z approved a request for a replat of the church property to allow for the construction of the new building. In a separate meeting, ZBA approved a three-foot variance to the city ordinance regulating side yards.

In documents for the meeting, representatives for the church noted that the variance is needed due to a 100-year-old pecan tree that is located in the way. The documents describe the tree as one that was planted by the Munson family and propagated from pecan trees in Austin.

Since its inception, Huff said the church’s emergency response team has been deployed 18 times for emergencies. The team is equipped with chainsaws and focus primarily on the removal of fallen trees as debris following storms and other natural disasters, she said.

Following Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas late this summer, Huff said the team was deployed twice to Victoria, Texas.