Plymouth Reverses Course, Approves Eagle Brook Church
After a nearly four-hour meeting and a previous “no” vote, the Plymouth City Council reversed course and approved a Twin Cities megachurch building proposal in a 4-2 vote Tuesday night.
Eagle Brook Church has proposed a 64,000-square-foot campus on a 53-acre site north of Chankahda Trail and west of Maple Grove Parkway. It’s one of the last pieces of undeveloped land in northwest Plymouth. Church plans show a building that would reach 35 feet in height and seat as many as 1,500 people.
The potential for litigation didn’t sit well with neighbors at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
“I’ve been fortunate to see many good neighbors in my lifetime,” said Sue Christiansen, who lives nearby. “I have yet to see a good neighbor try to sue their way into a neighborhood.”
Another resident called the church a $58 million bully, referring to the church’s reported revenue donations in 2023.
“I ask you city council to deny this bully once and for all,” said resident Rachel D’Souza.
City Council Torn
With a lawsuit pending, the city council was torn on what to do. Council member Jim Willis put forth a motion to reject the proposal based upon “findings of fact” discussed at the Dec. 12 council meeting. That motion failed in a 3-3 vote. One council member, Jim Davis, was not at Tuesday’s meeting.
Willis felt the proposal didn’t meet affordable housing goals stated in the city’s comprehensive plan.
“This isn’t housing for destitute, street people,” said Willis. “It’s affordable housing for people that I think make $87, 88,000 a year, entry-level jobs, school teachers for Pete’s sake. And we need to do something to foster that.”
Two council members, including Mayor Jeff Wosje, pointed out that the church met all the city’s land-use and zoning guidelines for the 53-acre site.
“By state statute we can’t vote against that,” said Wosje. “We just can’t.”
Second-Access Point Sways Vote
Traffic issues were heavily discussed throughout Tuesday’s meeting. Several council members raised concerns about residents being able to exit their neighborhood at 61st Avenue and Maple Grove Parkway. Traffic studies indicated no significant issues at that intersection except when service lets out on Sunday mornings. In that case, Eagle Brook officials say they will have traffic control help and give priority to residents coming out of 61st Avenue.
The Maple Grove City Council ultimately included a second access point, a right-in-right-out option off Chankahda Trail. That proposal was never recommended by city staff largely due to Chankahda being a high-capacity roadway.
That second-access point suggestion off Chankahda was meant alleviate potential bottlenecks at 61st Avenue. The suggestion was enough to sway the council to a 4-2 vote in approval. Council member Julie Pointner who intially voted in favor of denial in the 3-3 vote, ending up voting in favor.
After Mayor Wosje cast his vote for approval, several residents reacted in disgust.
“That’s embarrassing, that’s embarrassing,” shouted one resident.
Before the final vote, the church promised to make concessions, including improving the appearance to the back of the building, which would face many neighbors.
The Plymouth site would be Eagle Brook’s 12th permanent location in Minnesota.