FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – The Christ Chapel Church, a Fort Worth mega-church on Montgomery Street, wants to expand its parking lot into the surrounding Arlington Heights neighborhood. It currently has to use hundreds of auxiliary spots in lots across the street for church members to park.
The church is giving four older houses on the property to the city to be used as affordable housing elsewhere in Fort Worth. But, people in the surrounding neighborhood aren’t ready to give the project their blessing.
“We feel like there are solutions out there,” said Janet Ehret, a nearby homeowner. “We don’t feel like they need to keep buying up property in my neighborhood and keep building surface lots. Parking lots just never make a good neighbor. I can’t borrow a cup of sugar from that parking lot.”
They suggested the church add extra services to thin out traffic. Church leaders say they have more than a hundred volunteers for daycare during each of two current services and finding that many for extra services would be difficult.
“Every time we’ve added a service, we’ve grown,” said Executive Pastor Bill Egner. “So what we’ve recognized is this is really finishing off the master plan. And from here, we have to begin looking in other directions.”
The church plans on preserving as many trees as possible and using a concrete/dirt construction that allows grass to grow in the lot.
“What we decided to do was make something that would be pleasing and environmentally good for the neighborhood and something that would be as unobtrusive as possible,” Egner said.
Neighbors still worry the lot will be a detriment to property values ad an eyesore.
“I don’t want it to be an area that is just church surface parking, with people who are here one and a half hours on a Sunday and they’re gone,” Ehret said. “I live here 24/7.”
“On non-peak times it will just look like a park, available to the neighborhood for throwing Frisbee or playing soccer with their children, riding bikes,” Egner said.
Tuesday, both sides are expected to ask the city zoning commission for more time to discuss the issue before the committee decides whether or not to let the development proceed.
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