The Canal Winchester Times

At Busey and Diley roads

C3 Church planning worship center on 21 acres

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Canal Winchester City Council is scheduled to vote April 3 on a final development plan for C3 Church to build a 33,000-square-foot worship center at the intersection of Busey and Diley roads, north of the new Winchester Ridge apartment complex.

The 21-acre tract is now a Violet Township cornfield. Executive Pastor Gary Fowler said preliminary plans for the facility call for a 900-seat sanctuary, cafe, offices, several children's classrooms and a large conference room.

Fowler said the sanctuary would be expandable "so eventually it can seat 1,400 (people)."

To the immediate west of the proposed church property is 33-acre Busey Road Park, owned and maintained by Violet Township.

"We love that it's always going to be green space. We absolutely plan on doing events there, maybe put a playland out there," Fowler said.

C3 Church is an independent church founded seven years ago. It is affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

Until February, the church was housed in a 12,000-square-foot building on 10 acres at 200 Hill Road South in Pickerington. Since then, the congregation has been holding services at Pickerington High School Central.

The building on Hill Road South, constructed in 1991, is listed for sale at a price of $1.3 million, according to Realtor Jim Wooten. Pickerington-based Life Church is currently leasing it on a month-to-month basis.

C3 Church is engaged in a capital campaign and is working toward acquiring loans for the land purchase and architectural fees, which Fowler verified will run about $1 million. After that, the church will seek a second loan to construct its facility.

"We're looking at the end of April to close on the land, and we're still finalizing the bank details," he said.

Before the project can proceed, the church needs Canal Winchester City Council to approve its development plan.

"They are going through the process to get all of their zoning and code approvals in place, and then they'll continue with a capital campaign to purchase the land and eventually construct the church," Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said. "This is a good development option for us; the land is currently zoned for condos, which often are a cost to the city.

"Even though the church is exempt from real estate taxes, they'll have about 10 employees generating payroll tax and they do a lot of community work in Pickerington now that I'm sure we'll also benefit from, as well as bringing a lot of people into Canal Winchester."

City Planning and Zoning Administrator Chad Flowers said the church would be responsible for half of the cost of roadway improvements for the property, which would include sidewalk access and the potential for further multiuse path connections in the area, specifically with the apartment complex to the south.

"Our vision would be to eventually have a trail all the way down Busey Road," Haire said.

Violet Township Engineer Greg Butcher said the church went through Canal Winchester for zoning approval, but since Busey Road is not annexed to Canal Winchester, Violet Township access rules apply.

The original plans included two east-west access drives to better handle traffic in and out of the property. Butcher said he advised the church's design team that the Violet Township access management plan warrants only one access drive.

"Initially, they proposed two access points, but the westernmost access would be problematic with site distance (on Busey Road) so they eliminated that," he said.

Fowler said the congregation would like to be in its new space by fall 2015.

"One of the biggest reasons for the move is that we're growing," Fowler said. "We're attracting a lot of young families with young children. Our kids' space is filling up a lot sooner."

Canal Winchester City Council's April 3 meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 10 N. High St.

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