Last evening we went before the South Middleton Township Planning Commission for the second time seeking approval of the Land Development Plans for our Spring Garden Campus. Now that we have our storm water permit in hand from Pennsylvania DEP, I’m very pleased to report that our Land Development Plans were unanimously approved last night, with no questions and minimal discussion!
Our next and final step in this permitting journey related to our site Land Development Plans, will be to go before the South Middleton Township Board of Supervisors for their approval. To that end, we anticipate being on the SMT Supervisors Meeting Agenda on July 12, 2018.
Meanwhile we’re finalizing all of the building related drawings and anticipate submitting them for state and local building code, and PA Department of Labor & Industry code, reviews in July. Construction of the building itself cannot commence until all of these code reviews take place and the building plans are approved.
However, once our Land Development Plans are approved in total and recorded with Cumberland County we can file for our building permit to begin all of the site earthwork and grading, utilities installation, construction of East Baltimore Street and construction of the building foundations. Thus we remain on schedule for our site construction to begin in late August – early September. By the time our site construction nears completion we anticipate receiving our building permit for the building itself so that a continuous flow of overall construction (winter weather permitting of course) can occur.
THANK YOU for your ongoing prayer support as God continues to lead and bless us, and this permitting journey nears its conclusion!
This morning I received an email from our church secretary, Johanna, that a box from JCPenney arrived for me via UPS. Johanna rightly assumed I might have ordered a gift for my beloved spouse, and in order to keep it a secret had it delivered to CUMC. Having indeed done just that in the past, I quickly scanned my aged memory bank for important dates – Sue’s birthday, our anniversary, our daughters birthdays, etc to see why such a package had arrived…..but nothing registered. So instead I chalked it up to something my better half had ordered, and went about my day.
This afternoon Sue brought home the box which is pictured above. Clearly it’s been heavily used before with many layers of old tape and torn off labels that only added to the mystery. Judging from the condition of the box, I quickly assumed that there must be some mistake from whomever sent me the package at the church address.
Well, remember the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover“? I learned today that likewise, don’t judge the contents of a package by the box in which it is sent! Because inside this ratty old and wornout box…….was our long awaited STORM WATER PERMIT for the Spring Garden Campus from PADEP!!
What a WONDERFUL surprise received in such an unexpected package (I guess somewhere in there we can say that’s our tax dollars at work using recycled packaging???)!! Originally submitted for County and State review before Thanksgiving in November 2017, six (6) months later, almost to the day, arrives our permit that now FINALLY enables us to move forward with the land development permitting process with South Middleton Township.
For those of you who might have interest in what such a permit looks like (or need some help getting to sleep), you may click on the link below which is only the beginning of the full document contained in a bulging 2″ thick binder.
A final note with regard to God’s perfect timing. As I began writing today’s blog post, I happened to scroll back to the beginning of this CUMC Building Committee blog which Pastor Mira initiated for us to document the first meeting of the CUMC BC……on May 24, 2016……EXACTLY two(2) years to the day of today as we receive the gift of this long awaited permit! To God be the glory!!
Yesterday (May 7) Pastor Jim, Pastor Mira and I went before the United Methodist Conference Harrisburg District Board of Church Location and Building to present our final building plans and financial plan for the Spring Garden Campus. It is a requirement of our United Methodist Discipline that we receive the approval / endorsement of this board prior to proceeding with our project. The Board is comprised of 10 persons including our District Superintendent Barry Robison, and is one-half clergy and one-half lay persons. The primary purpose of this Board is to act as the eyes and ears of the Bishop to review building and parsonage projects predominantly from the financial perspective. Thus its role is not to critique what a church plans to do, but to offer advice along the way and ensure that the overall financial plan to pay for the project in total is sound.
We received unanimous approval of our preliminary project plans from this same Board back in September, and yesterday we again received unanimous approval of our final project plans. The Board is very excited for us and wishes to be kept updated along the way, not because it is a requirement, but simply because they are so interested in watching our progress. During our discussion we realized it has been 20+ years since the last totally new church build occurred within the south central PA portion of our Conference. Thus there are many eyes upon us (in a positive way!) as we continue moving forward in faith to further God’s kingdom here in Carlisle.
The 9th Congregational Info Sessions were held by the Building Committee this past Sunday April 22, 2018. Attended by 155 persons, these sessions focused on some design and permitting updates for our Spring Garden Campus project, together with a variety of other topics related to God’s blessings that we continue to receive.
The powerpoint used for these sessions may be viewed here Session #9 Powerpoint.042218
Of particular note, 56 trees donated by our congregation in honor of, or in memory of, family members, friends or the saints that have gone before us were planted onsite this past Saturday. An additional 94 trees will be planted near the end of construction to fulfill the tree planting requirements of South Middleton Township. If you are interested in donating one or more of these additional trees please contact Pastor Mira who will hold such a reservation for you until the time of planting.
As part of our work this Saturday, those who came out to plant trees were also provided with a handout to help them walk the property and get a sense of where different features of our new facility will be situated. Corners of the building footprint have been defined onsite by large colored flags to help get you acclimated to the position of the building on the site. The driveway connecting East Baltimore Street with our parking lot is also defined onsite by a series of stakes with pink flagging. These drawings are included in the powerpoint noted above.
Copies of the building footprint with colored flag locations are also available at Info Central in our Gathering Area if you wish to pick one up and visit the site yourself, which we encourage you to do. With that information in hand you can now get a good feel for our actual site layout as you walk the property. The flags will remain in-place through May 13.
Last evening we finally made a presentation before the South Middleton Township Planning Commission regarding our Land Development plans that were submitted last November. After being tabled for 4 straight months because comment letters had not yet been received from all government entities that must review such plans, we appeared at the planning commission meeting last night only to learn that they intended to table us once again because the PA Department of Environmental Protection had only just sent in their comments late last week. Fortunately the township engineer came to our aid stating that we were in attendance and prepared to speak, and we were allowed to do so.
The good news is that there were very few questions or comments following our presentation. We did not receive their approval of our plans, nor did we expect to, because its clear that township policy requires all review comments from all entities must be received, resolved, and ancillary permits issued, before they will take action on a land development plan. While most municipalities in our experience WILL preliminarily approve land development plans (as the Borough of Carlisle has already done with ours several months ago) in advance of all other reviews and permits being issued (with the caveat that such permits must be issued prior to their final approval), South Middleton Township will not.
So we consider this some forward progress at least. Our civil engineer is drafting our response to PADEP and scheduling meetings with both Cumberland County and PADEP to resolve their storm water management comments before we resubmit the plans one more time. We’ve been going back and forth with township staff in a similar fashion in the past few months resolving their internal comments as well, such that we hope our next round of submissions will lead to a final approval (provided the state issues our storm water NPDES permit in a timely fashion). Following the South Middleton Planning Commission approval we then have one final step to take which is going before the South Middleton Township Supervisors for their approval. After that is received, our Land Development plans can be signed by all entities and recorded with the County.
In the meantime, we’ve requested that the Borough of Carlisle issue us a building permit to proceed with the construction of East Baltimore Street (entirely within the Borough) as a first phase of our construction this spring to get that portion of the work completed while we wait for South Middleton and PADEP approvals and permits. However, there is reluctance on the part of the Borough Engineer to do so because the plans have not yet been recorded with all approvals (they must be signed by both Borough and South Middleton officials since our Spring Garden campus falls in two municipalities).
With that said, we otherwise continue to work towards a late summer start of construction for the site work shown on our land development plans. Also note that we must still submit all our plans for the building itself when completed for review and approval by South Middleton and the PA Department of Labor & Industry before our final building permit is issued. We intend to submit those building plans to these entities following our May 13 congregational vote, pending of course a positive outcome of that vote.
So this ‘permitting journey’ that we’ve been on since last November has a ways to go yet. And while it sometimes feels that we’ve been wandering in the wilderness for what can seem like 40 years along the way, be reminded that God is in control and our Risen Christ is leading our steps!! Thanks be to God!!
This week we made final selections for some of our key subcontractors for the construction of our Spring Garden campus. Each of these firms will function as design/build contractors for their specific trades and specialties under subcontract to our General Contractor, Arthur Funk & Sons Construction (Funk).
Funk initially proposed soliciting bids from 7 to 10 companies for each trade using firms they have previously worked with together with others recommended by our Building Committee. The Building Committee then worked closely with Funk to narrow the bidders list for each trade, and in effect prequalified each bidder based upon our collective positive experiences with them on other projects.
In the end, proposals were received from 3 to 5 bidders for each trade, and the low bidder was selected for each specialty as follows:
Sprinkler / Fire Protection – Precision Fire Protection, Inc., Reinholds, PA
Plumbing – Garden Spot Mechanical, Inc., Manheim, PA
HVAC – Tuckey Mechanical, Inc., Carlisle, PA
Electrical – CV Services, Inc., Mechanicsburg, PA
Each of these companies will do the detailed design and installation of their building systems using the design criteria provided by our engineering consultants for each of these specialty areas. Along the way they will work with Funk and the Building Committee to “value engineer” the project by suggesting ways to cut cost and improve efficiency based upon their past experience. The Building Committee is pleased to welcome each of these firms to our overall design/construction team for the project!