A 900-person congregation will soon have a home of its own after a zoning change approved by West Chester Twp. trustees.
Trustees have approved a zoning change that allows New Life Chapel to construct a three-building church campus on an 18-acre site along Cincinnati-Dayton Road.
Church officials of the congregation, which currently meets at Lakota West High School, will construct the new buildings just north of Cresthaven Avenue.
Lonnie Snell, senior pastor and founding member, said “from day one” in 2010, the congregants of New Life Chapel have wanted a place that was theirs.
“We began planning, preparing and praying for this time and for this day,” Snell said. “Over the past several years, the church’s growth has really exceeded anything we could have ever imagined or even thought possible.”
Founded with three families that met at Snell’s home, the congregation now attracts hundreds of worshippers each weekend, he said.
The proposed site will include 96,345 square feet of development built in three phases.
The first phase of construction will include a main church building and office facilities, amounting to about 78,420 square feet and 1,600 seats.
Remaining phases will include a 12,500-square-foot cafe and 5,422 square feet of additional office space.
There will be 756 parking spaces and 44 percent of the site, which offers high visibility along Interstate 75 and Cincinnati-Dayton Road, will remain open space.
Work on the first phase is expected to start toward the end of this year and conclude in late 2018.
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Trustee George Lang said when the congregation initially introduced a plan for the site, which is consistent with the land use plan for the property, “there were some concerns some of the abutting neighbors had.”
Lang said township officials talked with Snell, who was at first reluctant to make changes, but then he saw he was going to be able to get everything he wanted and still protect the interests of neighbors.
“He stepped forward in a positive way and took the bull by the horns,” Lang said. “This is a positive and a powerful church.”
Trustee Mark Welch said it was “exceptional” that Snell spoke with homeowners along Cresthaven Avenue and modified the original site plan to assuage their concerns.
Trustee Lee Wong said New Life Chapel is “a good fit for the community.”