The county Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a request by a bible church to build a new facility in a residential area near several North County communities, including 4S Ranch.
Chinese Bible Church is planning to build a nearly 90,000-square-foot facility located off Four Gee Road that will include a sanctuary, fellowship hall, learning center, and meeting and education buildings.
The church will have to comply with several conditions requested by Supervisor Jim Desmond, including ending outdoor events at 8 p.m. every day, prohibiting any outdoor amplified noise and turning off outdoor lighting by 10 p.m.
More than 5,000 residents in 4S Ranch, Del Sur and Santa Fe Valley communities signed a petition in opposition to the project.
Many who spoke during a public hearing that lasted more than an hour cited concerns over increased traffic and noise, and said the project was incompatible with the area’s residential character.
“The item before us is not a judgment of moral character, or whether the church does good work. This is solely a land-use issue,” 4S Ranch resident Patty Anders said. “They have every right to grow — that’s what they should be doing, but not in a semi-rural area.”
Other opponents, many of whom wore stickers reading “Protect Our Community,” said they moved to the North County region specifically because of zoning requirements that kept their neighborhood residential and preserved natural areas, including a wetland.
More than a few commended the Bible Church for its efforts to help vulnerable people and immigrants.
The Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a request by a bible church to build a new facility in a residential area near several North County communities over the protests of area residents https://t.co/DYslKd84df
— FOX 5 San Diego (@fox5sandiego) June 26, 2019
Robin Madaffer, an attorney representing the Chinese Bible Church, said the project has been in the works for 10 years during a challenging and expensive process and noted the building site is located near a busy shopping center.
She said the church, which wants to consolidate its three campuses, has already modified the project to accommodate concerns.
“They’re ready to build tomorrow,” Madaffer added.
Chinese Bible Church supporters stressed they would be good neighbors and touted their outreach work to people from all walks of life.
Albert Lam, senior pastor of Chinese Bible Church, said many parishioners are business owners and or work in many different fields, including hospitals.
“We want to flourish in our city in many different ways,” he told the board. “We are united in faith and proud to be Americans.”
Last November, the county Planning Commission denied the church’s request, based in part on building height. The county Planning and Development department recommended approval, saying the project met all applicable codes and complied with the California Environmental Quality Act.
Supervisors said while they appreciated the opponents’ concerns, there are numerous churches in residential communities that are good neighbors, and there are enforcement mechanisms in place should the Chinese Bible Church violates any of its conditions.
“We’re not talking about a Kaaboo or Stagecoach (music festival) coming to this area,” said Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, in addressing concerns over how a new church would affect the community.
Gaspar and her colleagues praised speakers on both sides of the issue for being very cordial, including younger people who offered their opinions.
“I do believe everyone in this room is operating from a place of good intent,” Gaspar said.
Board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob raised numerous concerns about traffic impact, but also said she remembers previous hearings over other megachurches that gained the trust of area residents after being built.
Supervisor Greg Cox said regardless of the community, locating new churches is not an easy task and noted that the San Dieguito planning group supported the Chinese Bible Church’s request.
— City News Service
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