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!
The Building Committee held our 7th Congregational Info Session this past Sunday January 14 at both 945AM and 1100AM. Updates on the land development process were provided along with an overview of our final Phase 1 building footprint of 61,370 SF. A summary of the September 2017 congregational survey options were reviewed with the corresponding results of what will be included in Phase 1 versus delayed for a later phase of construction or potentially reduced in scope in order to stay within our Phase 1 budget constraints.
The major change within the final Phase 1 footprint was the reorientation of the youth space, childrens’ space and gym, with these segments of the building all turned 90 degrees from their previous layout and aligned side by side. A family restroom was added off the gathering area, several of the LLLC rooms are now designated to be shared by the church nursery on Sunday mornings, and the depiction of storage areas throughout the building are now better defined. Some restrooms have been reduced in size or eliminated to lower costs, and the beginning considerations for ceiling and flooring finish options were presented.
Andrew Reese graciously videotaped the 945AM presentation for us. A link to that video is available on the CUMC website. The powerpoint used during this presentation may be viewed by clicking on the following link. Session #7 Powerpoint for BC Blog.011418
At last evening’s Carlisle Borough Council meeting our land development plans for the Spring Garden Campus received final unanimous approval! This completes the necessary approval process with the Borough, and gets us part way towards breaking ground for our new facility late this coming summer.
To their credit, the Borough conceded several points along the way as we in turn compromised to reach this point in the process. The Borough agreed to a 30-foot width for East Baltimore Street as opposed to the traditional 36-foot width, waived the requirement for street trees, and likewise agreed to our proposal to install sidewalk on only the south side of East Baltimore Street and its culdesac that we must build. They also agreed to our waiver request regarding the slope of our driveway as it meets the culdesac in terms of sight distance (which helps us minimize costly rock excavation) and approved our waiver request that these land development plans be considered both preliminary and final at the same time.
Several potential issues that concerned us from the beginning of our land development process were avoided in their entirety. These included a potential upgrade of the East Pomfret Street / South Spring Garden Street traffic signal; a potential sight distance issue to the south of the East Baltimore Street / South Spring Garden Street intersection; and possible storm water management improvements at this same intersection as it will receive an increased volume of water resulting from our building East Baltimore Street and its culdesac. The potential cost to the church of the above exceeded $250,000; thus we thank God that such issues have been avoided!
A final request we are making to the Borough is the waiving of a one-time “Recreation Fee”. This fee is based upon acreage, and in our case is estimated at $1,600. We believe the fee should be waived because we are doing no development whatsoever on the Borough portion of our property with the exception of building East Baltimore Street ON BEHALF OF the Borough.
Last evening we went before the Planning Commission of the Borough of Carlisle requesting approval of the Final Land Development Plans for our new facility. Borough staff had comments on our plans, which we will incorporate, and with that said recommended approval of them. The Planning Commission likewise approved our plans with the caveat that we incorporate Borough staff’s comments, and will in turn recommend approval of them to Borough Council. With two exceptions we readily agreed to all of their comments. We requested waivers from two Borough ordinances regarding the slope of East Baltimore Street as it crests the ridge of rock at the entrance to our property (to minimize the associated costly rock excavation), and the requirement to install curb and sidewalk around the full perimeter of East Baltimore Street and its culdesac that we will build, pay for, and then ultimately dedicate to the Borough (dedication of this street to the Borough means they will assume all ongoing maintenance, snow removal, street sweeping, etc of the street in perpetuity).
Following additional discussion with Borough staff last night and this morning we were able to reach agreement to accept our proposed road and driveway slopes which do in fact meet the Borough’s sight distance requirements. We also agreed to include a stop sign (for exiting traffic) at the end of our driveway where it meets the East Baltimore Street culdesac. As to the sidewalk requirement, we reached a compromise agreement to provide sidewalk on the south side of East Baltimore Street only, plus depress the curb line on the north side of the culdesac to facilitate snow plowing by the Borough. A preliminary drawing depicting these features may be viewed by clicking here. 21505403-LDE-PO-LY01-E Baltimore-Walk
All in all we are pleased with this outcome. Our next step in the Borough permitting process will be to receive Borough Council approval of our Land Development plans at their January 11, 2018 meeting.
Our December 19, 2017 presentation to the South Middleton Township Planning Commission was tabled as a result of administrative comments from SMT staff, and rescheduled for January 16, 2018.
May you all have a most joyous and blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!!