A proposal to build a minor-league baseball stadium in West Chester has been kept alive and is certain to generate continued debate.

The Borough Council referred the plan for the $40 million multiuse facility, which would be at an abandoned industrial site, to the West Chester Redevelopment Authority for further review.

If the authority recommends pursuing it, Councilman James A. Jones said, the idea would be subject to at least 13 public meetings. Council President Holly V. Brown predicted "months of discussion," and Councilwoman Susan L. Bayne suggested "it will be as divisive as the conversation we just had with First Presbyterian."

At a meeting Wednesday, the Borough Council voted to back further study of the ballpark, but rejected a contentious expansion plan sought by the First Presbyterian Church of West Chester. Council also voted to plug a $1.5 million deficit with a 20.1 percent tax hike in its new budget.

The church, which says it has outgrown its building at Darlington and Miner Streets, wants to raze two historic homes it owns in the block.

Jones said the plan offered insufficient parking, and the borough had relied on "representations made orally and in writing" several years ago that the buildings would be preserved. After the meeting, Bill Scott, a former Borough Council member and opponent of demolishing the buildings, said he believed a solution could be reached that would enable the church to expand and retain the historic streetscape.

The Turks Head Stadium Alliance proposes turning the former industrial site in the southeastern part of the borough into a facility that would draw a Phillies minor league team and provide a venue for West Chester University programs. The site, a brownfield, was once used by drugmaker Wyeth to produce penicillin. It was acquired by Pfizer Inc. when it bought Wyeth in 2009.

Bayne said the projected revenue of $475,000 would not cover borough expenses and falls short of the $750,000 the borough receives annually from Pfizer. Alan E. Adler, the project's architect, said he believed the redevelopment authority would conclude that the numbers favored advancing the proposal.

Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-696-3815 or kbrady@phillynews.com.