WATERVLIET — Before a standing-room-only audience Tuesday evening, city commissioners took up the legally complex and contentious issue of whether to grant a church permission to buy and renovate a shuttered property in the downtown business district.

The city’s planning commission voted unanimously last month to recommend the city deny Freshwater Community Church’s request for a special land-use permit that would let it purchase the building that used to house Bob’s Hobby Shop, at 115 N. Main St.