Church development proposal in 4S Ranch rankles neighbors

Say plans violate zoning rules for area
4S Ranch Church.png
Posted at 9:09 AM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 12:09:58-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Plans to build a 5-building church complex on Four Gee Road have neighbors upset. They say it goes against the current land-use laws for the area.

"This is a big issue for us," says Patty Anders, who lives nearby. "We want them to follow the rules. We want them to adhere to the specific plan."

The Christian Bible Church bought the land nearly a decade ago. According to documents filed with the city, they plan to build a project with "five buildings totaling 89,234 square feet. It will include a sanctuary/administration building, an education building, a meeting building, a fellowship hall, a learning center, 417 parking spaces and an overflow parking area. The proposed Project site currently has two residences and an entry road."

"We've been praying for this for ten years," says Church Office Manager Winnie Soo Hoo. "We want to be able to come together to worship as one body and to grow together."

But right now, the land they have is zoned as transitional low-density residential. That means there can only be one estate-style home per every 1-1.9 acres.

The Church is asking the Board of Supervisors for an amendment to the community plan that would allow them to build.

"We followed what the county advised us to do, which is buy a piece of land that is appropriate and ask for a zoning change," says Soo Hoo. "

The County Planning Commission recommended against the plan, while the Department of Planning and Services recommended approval. The final say will fall to the full Board of Supervisors.

Neighbors say changing the zoning rules would bring problems to their neighborhood. They worry about the traffic and crowd issues created by a church that could potentially hold multiple services each day for 1,500 people.

"If, after services, you have 4-500 cars coming out of a driveway onto this road, where are they going to go?" asks Gerald Kent, who is organizing the group "Stop the Mega Project" to oppose the Church.

"This church is going to be running huge events, probably every day, morning until night," says neighbor Hanie Wang. "This is a residential area and the amount of time they want to devote to it, the number of days per year, the residents can't handle it. The streets can't handle it. And I don't think the fire department can handle it."

Church leaders say that's not the case. They anticipate just a handful of large-scale outdoor events each year. They say the services and celebrations that happen inside the buildings won't affect the neighborhood.

"There's a misconception that we'll be operating at maximum capacity all day, seven days a week. That's not the case," says Soo Hoo.

Soo Hoo says her Church already paid for an completed an Environmental Impact Review study and has met with the community multiple times. They also reduced the size of the original project by 15%. It had been seven buildings, including a school. Now it's five. She says neighbors still aren't satisfied.

"We feel like we have come to the table at every point, but unfortunately the opposition is not willing to meet us at the table," says Soo Hoo.

"We're trying to maintain the integrity of the planning process," says Kent. "We don't want a commercial development in an area that supposed to be a transition."

The Planning Commission recommended against the project, while the County Department of Planning and Services recommended approval.

The final vote will take place at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday, June 26, starting at 9 am.