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Christ Redeemer Downsizes Church Plans



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hanover — Christ Redeemer Church, a Baptist congregation of about 400 that meets at Hanover High School, has scaled back plans to build a new $5 million house of worship.

The 13,400-square-foot, two-story structure now proposed for land on Greensboro Road would cost about a million dollars more than the 18,000-square-foot plan originally submitted last year, according to documents filed with the town’s Planning Board. Planners will discuss the proposal on Tuesday. 

Construction could begin as soon as fall, provided the congregation receives some needed planning and zoning permits from the town. Cost estimates have increased as the project progressed, organizers said.

“We’ve spent the last year trying to think and reflect” on concerns raised by abutters last January about the project’s scale, said Chris Audino, a pastoral resident who handles administrative matters for the church.

Audino said the church and its consultants, Bread Loaf of Middlebury, Vt., had reduced the proposal’s footprint and moved it closer to the road “as a statement about being part of the neighborhood.”

At the same time, he said, the plans call for a design that would reduce the profile and visibility of the church and its parking lot. The building would be “set into really kind of a unique little ‘V’ in the hill,” he said, and the parking lot would be hidden with the help of landscaping from nearby residential roads.

Josh Hunt, a neighbor on Greensboro Road, said the size of the latest proposed structure and 134 off-street parking spaces raised concerns for him about disruption to the neighborhood.

“I don’t mind having a church in the neighborhood at all,” he said on Thursday, explaining that his objection was more about the project’s scale. “The only thing I’m worried about is the size of it and the parking lot.”

Christ Redeemer has been meeting in Hanover for 17 years, many of them in Hanover High. Church leaders expressed gratitude to the school for its space, but also noted that staging its gatherings there meant loading church supplies in and out of a trailer every week.

In hopes of building a sanctuary of its own, the congregants over the past two years purchased four contiguous properties to form a nearly 8-acre plot at the corner of Greensboro Road and a street called Velvet Rocks. The church also owns a piece of empty land on the south side of Greensboro Road, across from the lot where it plans to place a building and parking lot.

Greensboro Road meets with Route 120 south of town, near Mink Brook.

In late 2016, Christ Redeemer withdrew its original plans after abutters expressed concern about the potential impact on their neighborhood’s character.

The revised plans, submitted in December, shaved more than 4,000 square feet from the original proposed footprint. But many of the underlying particulars remain the same: the church still must be big enough to hold 400 congregants.

“It’s going to turn a residential neighborhood into something that doesn’t feel that way,” Hunt, the Greensboro Road abutter, said on Thursday.

He added, however, that he had concerns about the location and size only and was “not against the church or any of the people in it.”

The plans do envision less use of the church during the week — a maximum of 20 people would visit the property Tuesday through Friday, with at most 50 more people coming by for Monday study groups, the document estimates. The facility also could see occasional use for weddings, funerals and other events.

Audino said that contrary to some rumors circulating in the neighborhood, the church was not looking to open a child care business onsite. Rather, the group is planning to include daycare space for children to use during religious services, he said.

The Planning Board is scheduled to discuss the project at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Hanover Town Hall.

The “design review” procedure that the board will initiate on Tuesday is the first of several required steps.

After the design review, the church would need approval for three separate special zoning exceptions from the Zoning Board of Adjustment. These include permits to build near wetlands on the site, widen a driveway and allow the “church” zoning use.

Finally, the congregation would return to the Planning Board for a site plan review, where the board may grant or deny a final permit.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.