Potential controversy at Planning Commission for Calvary Worship Center expansion proposalCalvary Worship Center's major expansion proposal - scaled back somewhat after neighborhood meetings over the past half-year - will go before the City Planning Commission Thursday, Oct. 16.
Mike Schultz, the city planner assigned to the project, is recommending approval of the three-phase project, which would involve two building demolitions, two additions totalling about 70,000 square feet and the creation of about 150 new parking spaces.
The current Calvary facility is on 5˝ acres off King and 30th streets. Church plans show additions creating a new worship center that can seat 1,780 people (compared with 753 now) and a new youth ministries center. The current worship center, built in 2007, will be remodeled for a fellowship hall, recreational area, kitchen, bookstore, food pantry (part of enhancing current services to homeless people) and staff support areas. The buildings to be torn down are the renovated old grocery store that now serves as the youth center (the new worship center will be
Complaints from some neighbors, which could surface at the commission meeting, mainly involve their concerns about potential impacts from extending the parking area east of the developed church property onto vacant land in an older neighborhood north of Uintah Street.
Schultz notes these issues in his write-up for the commission. They are listed below. (Following in parentheses is a Westside Pioneer summary of each issue, based on submitted plans, neighborhood meeting discussions and Schultz's written review.)
- Increase in weekend traffic along King Street and 30th Street; safety at intersections as well as general pedestrian safety in the area. (Along with adding off-street parking spaces, the project's Phase 3 will create a new worship center that's farther south of King and Castle streets. The current center is close to those residential streets, enticing attendees to park along them during Sunday services. The church hopes the new worship-center location will make parking on-site a more favorable option. Also, because the new center will have roughly twice the seating, City Engineering is requiring a traffic management plan before it opens. “This has been accepted by the applicant and is noted on the development plan,” Schultz writes in his review.)
- Introduction of church traffic along Willamette Avenue, Wilhelmia Avenue and 28th Street. (The original plans called for church parking on the east side of Wilhelmia all the way down to Uintah, but after discussion with neighbors and Schultz, the Wilhelmia portion was removed, with the church agreeing that it could afford to give up the 30 parking spaces that would have been there. However, to get to the Willamette lot from Uintah, vehicles need to come up 28th or Wilhelmia.)
- Grading and slope stability of the vacant area north of Willamette. (This is a longstanding issue, because the church-owned property where the lot is planned is along the face of a hillside going up from Willamette to King Street. The issue played a part in City Council overruling Planning Commission on a proposal by the property's previous owner to put townhomes along that part of Willamette in 2006. Calvary's plan, to put parking there with crib-lock retaining walls, has been OK'd by a private geologist and the Colorado Geologic Survey, according to Schultz.)
- Whether the criblock wall system is the best for slope stability and aesthetic compatibility. (Because the parking lot will be higher than Willamette, the walls will be along the street as well as on the backside of the parking area, against the hillside. One nearby resident made it clear at a neighborhood meeting that he thought that type of wall was ugly; however, Schultz has sided with the church, on condition that vines be planted that can cover the walls. Regarding wall stability, “due to the slope issues and overall height of the retaining walls, an engineered design is required to be reviewed when a building permit is requested for the series of retaining walls,” Schultz writes.)
- Whether stormwater runoff and drainage will negatively impact adjacent properties, in particular those along 28th and Wilhelmia. (The church has submitted a drainage plan, which has “generally been accepted by City Engineering Development Review (pending final acceptance of development plan),” Schultz' review states. The plan includes construction of a detention pond for runoff in the Willamette parking area.)
- Parking lot lighting. (The church plans to chain off the Willamette access except for weekend services or emergency access. “Site lighting will be limited to 16-foot pole heights with full cut-off housing covers; a photometric plan will be submitted for review and approval prior to final approval of the development plan,” Schultz writes. “The church has also agreed that parking lot lights will only be used during the weekend use of the easterly parking lot.”)
The formal church submittal asks for a zone change to make the entire church property a planned unit development (PUD). It now has two zones (Planned Business Center and R-2/cr (two-family residential with conditions of record). Calvary also needs approval of the PUD development plan. Because of the zone change request, City Council must also take up the matter at a subsequent meeting.
The Planning Commission meeting Oct. 16 will be in City Hall Council Chambers, 107 N. Nevada Ave., starting at 8:30 a.m.
Westside Pioneer article