Folks on Mustang Road have nothing against the Woodmen Valley Chapel megachurch, or religion in general. But some of them aren’t thrilled at the idea of a four-story church building and six-story steeple possibly blocking their views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range. They’d prefer to have cows roaming the land where the church, as well as homes, apartments, townhomes and dozens of buildings, a sports complex and convention facility are planned.
And that is what they fear will happen if the Colorado Springs City Council approves the Chapel’s concept plan and zoning change for Shiloh Acres, a 113-acre residential, retail and commercial development, called Shiloh Mesa, on property at the northeast corner of East Woodmen and Marksheffel roads. The issue is expected to be on the council’s Nov. 25 agenda.
Here is a look at blueprints submitted to the City Planning Commission of the concept plan for Shiloh Mesa:
You can see the entire 18-page document here.
The project is in the concept and zoning-change stage. And Larry Larsen, city planner, vows every effort will be made to protect mountain views of the neighbors as the project moves to full-fledged development plan stage.
But that doesn’t mean the city is interested in discouraging Woodmen Valley Chapel or dramatically changing its project.
Just the opposite. While Larsen is sympathetic to the neighbors’ fears of losing their rural lifestyle, he stressed that the Chapel’s 113-acre tract now is within city limits (thanks to the 2004 Woodmen Heights annexation) and therefore should be developed using urban design principles like any other city lot.
“We can’t be concerned with trying to promote a rural lifestyle within the city,” Larsen said. “That land is in the city. And the city should encourage urban densities and development so sprawl doesn’t occur into the county.”
It’s interesting the project is the involvement of Woodmen Valley Chapel, which is following a national trend among megachurches in delving into land development. LifeBridge Christian Church is doing a similar project east of Longmont. Actually, it was subject of heated public debate and voters there twice rejected annexation of the church’s 348 acres. Much larger Christian communities are being developed nationwide, including Ave Maria, a new town being developed around a new Roman Catholic university near Naples, Fla.
Woodmen Valley Chapel has created the Center for Strategic Ministry to act as its development wing under hte direction of Les Krohnfeldt, who retired from the Army. Krohnfeldt said Shiloh Mesa will be built and operate under the Christian principles that guide Woodmen Valley Chapel. And its covenants – rules that typically govern things like paint, landscaping, remodeling and parking issues in neighborhoods – will reflect the church’s Christian beliefs.
“I do not envision any activities in this community inconsistent with the religious purposes and principles of the Woodmen Valley Chapel,” Krohnfeldt said.
Here is the key to the Shiloh Mesa blueprints: