Euzoa looks to move

Current church property on market for $2.485 million

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— Churches grow. It's the mission and passion of most.

So, it is a mixed blessing that the Euzoa Bible Church has outgrown its 28.23-acre parcel in Strawberry Park. Tucked into the mountainside at the base of Buffalo Pass, the land that the Euzoa Bible Church sits on holds much more than an indoor sanctuary.

The 400-foot, tree-covered driveway leads to a barn-like church and an old log lodge. The property holds a log home, log cabins, and a 0.75-acre lake. At one time, the Euzoa complex even ran a Christian Retreat Center and could house up to 70 people.

Ron Pollard, a church elder and one of the original founders of RE/MAX Steamboat, has come out of retirement to help the church sell its property.

"This is a very special place," Pollard said. "I'd love it to be here forever."

In November, the Routt County commissioners refused to grant the church a revised conditional use permit allowing it to expand. To meet its growing congregation, the church has to hold two services, and its Saturday night service sometimes exceeds capacity. But neighbors said expanding the sanctuary would not meet Strawberry Park's "no growth" policy.

So the church has decided it is time to move on. The 28-acre parcel is on the market for $2.485 million and the church has started the process of looking for a piece of land for a new church.

"To make everybody happy and to be able to grow as the Lord leads us to grow, we want to find a new location where growth is not a problem," Pollard said.

A longtime Steamboat Realtor, Pollard imagines the property will be converted into a trophy home. He said a house could be built overlooking the tree-surrounded lake and vast views of Strawberry Park. The sanctuary could be converted into an upscale barn with the Sunday school classrooms on top converted into offices and a nice tack room in the bottom.

The five secondary residences could be used for caretaker units or guest cottages and the old log lodge with a fireplace could be used for gatherings.

Pollard could also see the property being used in a commercial or a combination residential and commercial use, similar to uses in the past. That would probably require the owners to obtain a conditional use permit or a special use permit.

From 1940 to 1966, the property was home to the Laketrail Guest Ranch and Restaurant. In 1966, the property changed hands and became the Bear Pole Ranch, which was a children's summer camp, ski lodge and touring center, guest lodge and restaurant.

In 1989, the Euzoa Bible Church asked the county to change the permitted use from a summer camp and ski lodge to a church and Christian retreat center.

"This property was always used for a commercial-type situation since it was first built on," Pollard said.

The church stopped hosting retreats two years ago, largely because operating it took too much attention away from the church, Pollard said.

The property is littered with buildings, the largest being a barn-like structure the church remodeled in 1989, turning it into an auditorium, offices and Sunday school classrooms. The land also has the rustic 3,984-square-foot log lodge with a commercial kitchen and walk-in refrigerator.

The property has five permanent secondary housing units. There is a 1,360-square-foot caretaker residence, a 740-square-foot old log residence and three small efficiency log cabins bordering the lake.

A 3,600-square-foot log "fourplex" is also on the property. Overlooking the lake, the building can sleep 32 and has no kitchen. Right now, Pollard said, the building is used to house interns.

The final housing unit is a 2,400-square-foot log home next to the lake. The building is the youth pastor's home and was transplanted from a site along River Road.

Along with the 0.75-acre lake, there are 15 acres of fenced pasture.

The property gets its water from a deep well with a storage tank and has senior water rights from the Soda Creek ditch.

Utilities include a sewage treatment system, natural gas, electric and a commercial telephone system.

"We have everything here, utility-wise, someone could hope for," Pollard said.

Pollard said the church has looked at vacant land along U.S. Highway 40 and west of Steamboat Springs. Many churches in urban areas are able to take advantage of warehouses, but no large buildings like that are available in Steamboat, Pollard said.

He said the church would like to find a 10-acre piece of land close to the city with the ability to tap into the city's sewer and water system.

Pollard said there are significant write-offs for an owner to sell to a non-profit religious organization.

It takes five to 10 years for most churches to sell their properties and relocate, but Pollard is hoping the process goes much faster for Euzoa.

He said the church would ask the buyer of the property to give it two years of flexibility, but the church could move out in six months if the buyer wanted. In that case, Pollard said, the church would look into holding services at the Steamboat Springs High School or middle school.

Euzoa has experience in keeping its church alive without a sanctuary. In 1986, Euzoa was displaced when its church at the corner of Fifth and Pine streets was destroyed in a fire. For about two years, Euzoa used the middle school to hold services.

If the church has not found a buyer in 30 to 60 days, Pollard, who turned in his real estate license when he retired, said he would list the property with RE/MAX.

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