It is with tremendous gratefulness that we can announce that Jackson County is currently finalizing its approval of our intended building project for the property on 647 S. Valley View Road! Neighbors had until November 4th to object to the County regarding any of our proposed plans, and as nothing had been filed by the end of that date, the County is now finalizing its decision, and we will complete our purchase of the 7 acre lot!
On March 26, 2014, Fr. Andreas and our building group met with the real estate agent to look at the property at 647 Valley View Road, Ashland. We examined the dwelling and the property for our potential use. During the month of April, we investigated land purchasing, development and church construction. We made contact with the Jackson County Planning Department and began learning about the land use planning and approval process. In May contacts were made with many of the necessary players: Rogue Valley Sewer Services, ODOT, Jackson County Roads, engineers, architects and consultants.
As we continued on with our feasibility work, and worked with the owner and real estate agent to make a purchase proposal, we also began working on how the property would be developed, if indeed we were able to obtain approval from the county for our purpose. We began with sketches of the trapeza (“fellowship hall”), and only rough layouts of the entire development. The thinking was originally that by building the trapeza first, we could move sooner onto the property and that then we could begin the Temple. It is at this time that we enjoyed a visit from Fr. Anthony Karbo from Holy Theophany in Colorado Springs. Fr. Anthony’s experience and perspective led us in an entirely new direction. Instead of first building our trapeza, like many others had done and then lost their zeal of building their temples, he encouraged us to build first what we really desired to have – the Temple. “The trapeza will then take care of itself”. After some discussion we were in agreement to place our emphasis first on the Temple! We began to examine ideas based on the Colorado Springs Temple plans. We worked on the preliminary Temple design and more on the property development layout and the required property funding numbers. On June 3rd, Fr. Andreas and the property owner signed a purchase contract wherein the particulars of the transaction were specified.
On July 2nd, the parish council approved our direction to work with an Ashland architect on the temple. The architect we had been speaking to suggested a two phase project: Phase 1 – Temple and restroom (required) and Phase 2 – trapeza. On July 10th, our application was submitted along with the required fee to Jackson County Planning. We learned that the cemetery could not be included with the temple and trapeza since it requires an entirely different review process.
On July 13th Abp. Benjamin visited the parish, reviewed our plans and gave them his blessing. We were granted access by the property owner to have our patronal feast picnic at the Valley View property, and His Eminence blessed the land with holy water at that time.
In the middle of August we were assigned a specific county planner for our project who would work closely with us to process our application. The planning department sent letters to all the neighbors and government entities possibly interested in our application. The county received a returned opposition letter from one neighbor, concerned about several things but most importantly the increased traffic on Valley View Road. Because ODOT and the county road department had recommended a traffic impact analysis be made, the planner said that he could not give us a favorable preliminary decision without a traffic study. This required us to ask for an offer extension from the property owner. We were able to secure an extension, moving our closing date from October 1st, 2014, to the end of February, 2015. We had the traffic study made and submitted it along with a revised site plan and other documents to the county planner on October 13th. On October 15, we received a verbal preliminary approval for our project. On November 4th we received the final approval from Jackson County!
We are now working out all the details regarding the land purchase, and hope to close on it by the end of November or early December. Glory to God for all things!
This is a brief summary report. Many, many details have been omitted here in the interest of providing you with just a “snapshot” of what’s been happening. The church council, the building group, Fr. Andreas, and many others worked time and again behind the scenes to maintain the necessary momentum. Thanks goes to all and Glory to God!