Thursday, August 22, 2002
Steamboat Springs Euzoa Bible Church will ask the county a second time to approve its plans to expand.
The church has appealed a decision by the Routt County Planning Commission that denied its request to build a new sanctuary at its Strawberry Park location to accommodate a growing congregation.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners should hear the appeal in September.
Combined Sunday and Saturday attendance at Euzoa is pushing 350 people, and church leaders wanted permission to construct a larger building if finances became available.
Planning commissioners acknowledged the church's natural desire to grow but decided they could not broaden limitations previously placed on the church.
Traffic counts, congregation size and residences on the church's property already exceed limits set by the county in 1989.
The Planning Commission's 5-4 decision last Thursday to reject the easing of some restrictions placed on Euzoa came by way of several concerns.
The county would set a bad precedent if it approved more lenient regulations when the church was not in keeping with current regulations, some planning commissioners argued.
"If someone comes in for an extension, they first have to show compliance with what is (already) there," planning commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said this week.
Euzoa elder Ron Pollard said church leaders are determining how the church can realistically abide by current limitations set by its conditional-use permit before county commissioners hear the church's appeal next month.
"We will live within our CUP some way," he said.
Pollard said church leaders were encouraged by the Planning Commission's narrow vote. If Euzoa can tweak its request, perhaps county commissioners would be willing to lend their approval, he said.
"We are hoping we could fine tune our request to make it more palatable to the county and the Strawberry Park Group to show that we are not going to be a growth problem for them," he said.
The Strawberry Park Group opposes the construction of a new church building on the grounds that growth disrupts the rural nature of Strawberry Park.
Members of the board have stressed they do not wish to undermine the church's mission to grow but would rather see them carry out that mission within an urban area.
Pollard noted the church's growth patterns were modest until its Saturday night service was added to draw in a younger crowd.
"That made a big spike in it since we put Saturday night in there," he said.
Planning commissioners said they were concerned about the open-ended nature of the church's request.
Church leaders hope to address such concerns when they make their presentation to the County Board of Commissioners.
If changes to Euzoa's request are substantial, however, the church will need to present its request to the Planning Commission a second time before it goes before the county commissioners, said Chad Phillips, assistant director of the county's Planning Department.
"If they (Euzoa) change it so much, then the board will want to know what the Planning Commission says about the new (request)," Phillips said.
An appearance before the Planning Commission, if warranted, would probably not happen until mid-October, he said.