Plymouth City Council Rejects ‘Megachurch’ Proposal
Plans by Eagle Brook Church to build in Plymouth hit a significant snag Tuesday night. The Plymouth City Council voted 6-1 to reject plans to build a so-called “megachurch” on farmland amid residential homes.
Eagle Brook Church wanted to build on 53 acres of land at the northwest corner of Maple Grove Parkway and Chankahda Trail, just north of Meadow Ridge Elementary school near the Maple Grove border.
The proposal called for a 64,000-square-foot church that would reach 35 feet in height and seat as many as 1,500 people. Eagle Brook Church currently holds services at Wayzata High School, where it leases space. The congregation has long sought space to build a permanent home in the west metro.
Neighbors Raise Opposition
A large contingent of residents, some of them wearing “vote no” stickers, packed Plymouth City Hall on Tuesday night to voice opposition to the project. Of the 37 people who spoke, 31 were against, including Maple Grove Mayor Mark Steffenson, who came to speak out on the project.
“I think our greatest concern is there is only one access point to this facility,” said Steffenson. “It creates very simply an operational challenge.”
Steffenson said churches in Maple Grove all have multiple access points. He said he has received more comments about this project than any other over the last several years.
The city of Plymouth also received nearly 150 letters from residents, most of whom were against. Residents also spoke of concerns about fit and impact on the neighborhood. Some also questioned a traffic study that showed Maple Grove Parkway and Chankahda Trail could handle additional traffic volumes.
“The capacity isn’t in question,” said council member Julie Peterson, who voted no. “But there is much more to the traffic impacts than just what the roads can handle.”
Plymouth City Council member Jim Willis wrote a letter saying how the church proposal doesn’t fit the city’s goals in the comprehensive plan for more affordable housing.
“I reached this conclusion because I believe the city’s comprehensive plan calls on us to address the need to support the development of additional affordable housing and the remaining vacant parcels guided for residential development,” said Willis.
The city’s zoning guidelines would allow for a church in this area.
Support for Church
A proposal last year would have built 137 single-family homes on the site. A developer ended up withdrawing those plans.
Some residents, as well as Plymouth Mayor Jeff Wosje, wondered whether housing would have a more significant neighborhood impact than a church.
“If a church at this location raises this much question and controversy, I really would like the council to think what high density housing would do in terms of raising questions and concerns,” said resident Carl Stamp, who lives near the site.
Another supporter of the project pointed out how a church would preserve significant green space compared to a large housing development.
“I think this would be a beautiful project,” said Brad Olson.
The city council’s precise motion on Tuesday was to have the city attorney prepare “findings of fact” based on comment of council members to deny the project. A final vote to deny is scheduled to occur at the Plymouth City Council’s first meeting in January.
Mayor Wosje was the lone person to vote against denial.
Eagle Brook Church has 10 locations in the Twin Cities metro. But northwest metro cities have turned away plans.
The city of Corcoran rejected plans by Eagle Brook Church in 2020. The project also saw opposition last year in Minnetonka where Eagle Brook ended up withdrawing plans.
It’s not immediately clear if Eagle Brook will end up pursuing a different site in Plymouth.