You’ll recall from the last Project Update that we were awaiting a rehearing our on “Church Use” Special Exception. In March, after another marathon hearing and then two deliberative sessions, the board voted unanimously to “approve” our project but
gave us some very problematic restrictions. Firstly, the board limited our occupancy on the site (not just the building or sanctuary) to only 300 total persons. This means that we would technically have to turn away people at the street should more than 300 show up for one of our services. Secondly, they restricted the hours that we can use the property to only 7:00am to 9:00pm on Sunday through Friday and 8:00am to 9:00pm on Saturdays. By these conditions, Don would not even be allowed to work quietly in his office outside these hours. We believe these restrictions to be based on inaccurate data, as well as the first of their kind imposed on a church in New Hampshire.
We are convinced that this ruling fails both in principle (not meeting the requirements of the law) and practically (not meeting our present programming needs, let alone leaving room for growth). Certainly, we could try to modify our programming (multiple services, etc.), but we would need to seriously consider whether the restrictions so limit the project that it no longer fits with the vision that moved us to enter this process.
We have submitted another request for rehearing to the Zoning Board, asking them to reconsider these restrictions. We expect that sometime in the next month the board will decide whether to grant or deny us this reconsideration. Building a church is a process. As we have suggested all along, we are moving one step at a time, evaluating at every turn the best way forward.
We greatly appreciated the 40+ who came out to the congregational meeting last Sunday. Thank you for your prayers, engagement, and very thoughtful questions! If you weren’t able to join us, please feel free to contact Chris Audino or Lauren Groves, or submit a question on this website.