South Middleton Township Planning Commission

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!!




Key Subcontractors Selected

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!

Congregational Info Session #7 – 011418

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


Carlisle Borough Council Approves our Final Land Development Plans!!

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.

Carlisle Borough Planning Commission Approves Land Development Plans

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!!

Tree Planting at SGC

As a result of several municipal ordinances that we must abide by at our new facility, we are required to plant a substantial amount of trees as part of the construction of our Spring Garden Campus.  Believe it or not, at present we are tasked to plant a minimum of 176 trees of various types and sizes to supplement the trees already on our property for which unfortunately no significant credit can be taken.

Now I love green space and trees as much as the next person, but this substantial requirement for tree planting does seem a bit excessive!  Nonetheless, it’s a requirement that we must fulfill, and it thereby provides a unique opportunity for our congregation to give back to our church, our community, and the environment as we enhance God’s creation that we are calling our Spring Garden Campus.

If you click on the following two drawings from our Land Development submission, the details of the types, quantities and locations of trees that we will be planting are depicted:     25 – LANDSCAPING PLAN  26 – LANDSCAPING PLAN    You’ll see that trees are required to be planted to provide screening for existing neighboring residential properties, and are also required to landscape our driveway and parking areas.  As a result, these obligations present us with two different timetables to plant trees; ie, we can plant the required screening trees at our discretion because they will be located in areas not subject to our upcoming construction, whereas the landscaping trees cannot be planted until the site grading and paving preparation is completed, and the parking lot raised landscape islands are created.

With those timetables in mind, and at the suggestion of our Landscape Architect based upon his work with other churches, the Building Committee proposes that our congregation take on the project of donating and planting trees ourselves to the glory of God and in honor of various persons and families, and/or in memory of those saints who have gone before us.  Pastor Mira has agreed to begin planning for such a project so more details will follow in early 2018, but our preliminary thoughts are to offer three different opportunities for our congregation to purchase and plant trees together on specific family days at the SGC.

Arbor Day 2018 is April 27 which is a Friday.  So that weekend of April 28 – 29, 2018 could be our first planting time for the screening plantings along our property lines as shown on the landscaping plans.  Next, for those who like to purchase live Christmas trees, or wish to do so next Christmas with the intention of subsequently donating them, we could plant those live evergreens in late December 2018, also along our property lines to serve as screening, and at other locations around the campus not subject to ongoing building and paving construction at that time.  Arbor Day 2019 is Friday April 26, so the weekend of April 27 – 28, 2019 should serve as our first opportunity to plant all kinds of trees defined on the plans in the landscape islands of our parking lot as well as along our driveway.

Please be advised that while we don’t intend to use plaques or other markings to signify trees planted in honor or memory of someone, we will keep records and as-built drawing locations of each tree that is planted so that the legacy of your gift can be maintained.  Please prayerfully consider joining us in this endeavor, and look for more details this spring from Pastor Mira!









Upcoming Field Work at Spring Garden Campus and Meeting Dates

Today we’ve finalized the schedule for the geotechnical  test boring work at our Spring Garden Campus.  It will be completed the week of December 18 thanks to the firms we’re working with squeezing us in before Christmas to support our design schedule. 

The field survey stakeout of the boring locations is scheduled for Friday December 15 and will be completed by Dawood Engineering.  CGC Geoservices is our test boring contractor, and the drill crew should be on site Monday December 18 thru Thursday December 21.  30 shallow probe borings will be drilled to investigate the rock conditions along the alignment of our underground utilities between South Spring Garden Street and our new building location.  11 borings with soil sampling and rock coring will be completed within the building footprint itself to determine foundation design conditions.  I’ll be with the drill crew to log the results much of the time, but not full-time.  The drill crew are former employees of mine, and will be clearing access to the boring locations as needed as their gift to the church at no charge.  We also received discounted pricing for the work.  The boring locations can be viewed by clicking on the following link   CUMC BORING LOCATIONS

The structural design of our building has begun, and the initial concept includes masonry block load bearing walls for the two wings of the building, and steel frame for the central gathering space and worship center.  Steel bar joists and trusses will be used to support the roof, and a combination of aluminum stud / drywall and CMU (concrete masonry units) block will be utilized for interior walls.  Preliminary mechanical design includes all rooftop HVAC units with most ductwork above the ceilings, but likely some intentionally exposed spiral ductwork in the gathering area along with an open painted exposed steel ceiling in that portion of the building to complement the natural look of the two story glass walls front and back.

This week we’ve received a positive completeness review from South Middleton Township for our land development package and are scheduled to go before their Planning Commission on December 19.  Likewise, we are scheduled to make our presentation to the Borough of Carlisle Planning Commission on December 21.  Approval from both municipalities is required to begin our permitting process.  Your prayers on those particular dates for receptive hearts and minds will be appreciated.

The Building Committee has scheduled our next Congregational Information Sessions for SUNDAY JANUARY 14, 2018 from 945 – 1045AM in the Sanctuary and from 1100AM – 1200PM in the MPR.  At that time the final floor plans will be presented along with a budget breakdown of what will be included in our Phase 1 project versus what will be delayed until a future phase.