by Rick Langenberg:
The Teller County church craze continues non-stop, with Woodland Park city leaders giving the go-ahead last week for a nearly 8,000-foot sanctuary next to Kavanaugh Field. This is a key part of new plans locally for ambitious sanctuary/chapel facilities, including a forthcoming bid by the Golden Bell church camp in Divide.
With no objections, the city council unanimously granted Our Lady of the Woods Catholic Church a final plat for a new proposed six-acre Teller Catholic subdivision and a planned site plan for an elaborate sanctuary facility that will be equipped to seat 400 people and be used as a place of worship.
The council action was actually quite uneventful, following a detailed staff report by planner Lisa Parnell. No one spoke in opposition to the plan, and the council mainly just asked a few technical questions, such as the height of the new sanctuary building that will stretch to 43 feet tall.
According to Parnell, the staff had some initial concerns with traffic, infrastructure and drainage, but they cited these as common issues in this part of town. Under the approval action, the church will have to upgrade the sidewalks in the area, and construct a new sidewalk, pay an undetermined amount of capital and storm water capital fees, purchase water and sewer taps, complete a final landscape plan and submit a few more architectural details.
Overall, the city staff lauded the church expansion as a good use for this part of the downtown. Parnell noted that Our Lady of the Woods has been a local church mainstay for more than 50 years. “This land is suitable (for additional church development),” said Parnell. “It is not close to residents.”
The church had mulled a variety of options over the years, such as relocating their facility.
The council didn’t object and viewed the proposed sanctuary design, highlighted by stone accents and wood siding, as a quality project. Our Lady of the Woods will still use its current worship facility. “This will be a beautiful and great place in our community,” said Woodland Park Mayor David Turley.
Besides the Catholic Church expansion, the Andrew Wommack Ministries group is moving full-speed ahead with construction for the first phase of its huge Sanctuary facility and Charis Bible College. Plans for a nearly $100 million development, including a 2,500-seat auditorium, a 3,500-square-foot amphitheater, a pavilion and student housing were approved last summer, following many hearings. The project was heavily supported by many community leaders, but generated concerns over impacts and the lack of property tax dollars due to the non-profit status of the ministries group.
And next month, the Teller County Planning Commission with grapple with a proposal, calling for a 9,000 square-foot chapel at the Golden Bell church camp in Divide as part of a major expansion. This project has encountered much opposition from local residents, who see a potential “Disneyland” occurring in Divide. They orchestrated an anti-expansion petition drive, signed by nearly 200 residents. The new project will be called the Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center.
Recently, the Teller County commissioners approved 2-1 a change in the Divide growth map, which cleared the way for a new rural resort designation and the new chapel project. The chapel bid can only be reviewed by the planning commission, under the county rules. But some of their additional expansions, calling for major recreational amenities, new athletic fields and additional facilities, including a new activities center, must get reviewed by both the planning commission and the county commissioners.