The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors endorsed a Morada church's plan to move a short distance north and build a much larger complex for a growing congregation.
The board voted 4-1 on Tuesday to uphold the county Planning Commission's approval of a use permit for Harvest Bible Church. The church is currently located on the east Highway 99 frontage road in a strip shopping center adjacent to the Aspire Charter School.
The new location will be on 17 acres off the frontage road, north of Eight Mile Road.
County supervisors denied an appeal by the Morada Area Association, which opposed the project because they said it would destroy farmland, consume more water to serve the property, and cause soil, sewer and traffic problems. Supervisor Steve Gutierrez voted in support of the Morada residents' group.
The new Harvest Bible Church, eventually seating up to 1,000 people, will be constructed in five phases over a 12-year period. The first phase calls for a 12,500-square-foot classroom building with an assembly hall to serve 350 people. Services will be held in the building until the fifth and final phase, when the larger sanctuary is constructed.
Pastor Mark Butler said he doesn't know when he will break ground at the new site. It depends on how quickly the county approves plans and how long it takes to raise money.
"It will be our own property instead of leased property," he said.
In other action
- The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a six-lot subdivision on 30 acres at the southwest corner of Jahant and Tretheway roads in Acampo. The subdivision is called "Tom's Place." More-Gas Investments is the applicant.
- The board named its top three priorities for county officials to lobby federal officials on their One Voice trip next spring. The projects are upgrading the instrument landing system at Stockton Metropolitan Airport, Highway 4 corridor improvements and improvements to Lower Sacramento Road.
- The board voted to allow debit and credit cards to pay for Public Health fees.
- Supervisors reappointed Scott Hudson to another four-year term
as agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights and measures.
- News-Sentinel staff
Harvest Bible Church is nondenominational, but is similar in theology to Assembly of God churches, Butler said. The church was founded in 1994 with five people attending the first service. Today, the church averages 500 in attendance each Sunday.
Pat Gotelli, representing the Morada Area Association, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday about the organization's concern about the loss of farmland, water, nitrate coming from septic tanks and other issues.
"The church should be in the Stockton city limits," Gotelli told the board. "We don't mind them building a church, but it should be across the freeway with city services, police, fire, roads, water and sewer. It's hard to speak against a church because I attend a church myself."
Nevertheless, Gotelli said he plans to be a good neighbor with the church.
Butler said the Morada residents' concerns are valid. However, the church is already using water and sewer, and the land hasn't been used for agriculture for several years.
"We're not trying to cause urban sprawl," Butler said.
The church will be in operation only on Sundays and Wednesday nights.