Proposal for new church in Randall squeaks by Town Board

A proposal to rezone property to build a new church in Randall received the endorsement of the Randall Town Board Thursday in a close vote.

Besides the 3-2 vote in favor of the project by the Town Board, the church’s plans were rejected by the town Plan Commission in another split vote taken earlier in the same meeting.

New Life Bible Church, currently located in Twin Lakes, was seeking rezoning of land at Highway P and F for the purpose of building a new church facility. Two parcels are involved and the church is seeking rezoning from agricultural, residential and business uses to institutional. The church plans to initially construct a 6,500 square foot building with another 6,000 square feet possible in the future, said Tracy McConnell, pastor.

The building will house worship services and youth activities on Wednesdays and Sunday, McConnell said.

Rumors the church intended to operate a soup kitchen or homeless shelter are not true, McConnell said.

“To build a homeless shelter in the town of Randall would be ridiculous,” McConnell said.

A rendering of the proposed church building.

Most of the members of the Plan Commission that opposed the rezoning said at the meeting it was because the rezoning conflicts with the town’s Smart Growth Plan, which calls for the parcels to be developed with medium lot residential.

“I don’t think this is about religion, I think it’s about what we follow,” said Plan Commission member Ken Mangold, referring to the Smart Growth plan. “This was going to be a medium residential neighborhood. It’s very clear that this would be the opposite of what was recommended by the plan. What we are looking at here is not just a simple rezone … we’re looking at upending the whole plan.”

The only opposing Plan Commission member who did not cite sticking to the plan as the reason for their opposition was Bob Gehring, who said he has concerns about storm water run-off to adjacent property that he is not confident will be addressed by engineering.

While acknowledging the church’s plan was a departure from the plan, some commission members supported the rezoning. Part of the property is currently zoned B-3, which would allow a number of businesses to be built without any review.

“I think a church would be more on the rural side than a strip mall or a gas station,” Melling said.

Town attorney John Bjelajac  said the Smart Growth plan was not binding and the town could approve the rezonings if it felt the proposal was beneficial. Plans are “living, breathing documents” he said and he urged town officials to “look at the merits and make a decision.”

Mangold motioned to recommend a denial of the church’s requests. That motion passed the commission by a 5 to 3 vote with Mangold, Paula Soderman, George Bailitz, Nancy Kemp and Gehring voting in favor of denial and Melling, Ron Peterson and Bob Stoll voting against.

At the Town Board level, Gehring moved to deny the rezonings, similar to the Plan Commission motion. That motion failed 2-3. Supervisor Lauren Fox then moved to recommend that the county approve the rezonings, which passed by a 3-2 vote with Stoll, Fox and Supervisor Randy Kaskin voting in favor and Gehring and Supervisor Mark Halvey voting against.

Gehring and Stoll are members of both the Plan Commission and the Town Board.

About 30 people attended the meeting, overflowing the typical seating for a meeting at the Town Hall in Bassett. Most of those in attendance appeared to be church members and several spoke in favor of the project. One audience member spoke against it, also citing the Smart Growth plan conflict.

The church’s proposal will next have to be approved by Kenosha County.

8 Comments

  1. Jeff Scanlan says:

    In Randall you can launch fire bombs into the air but you can’t bring in a church?

  2. George bailitz says:

    It is an amusing but all to common fact that those who have the least amount knowledge on an issue have the most to say. Were you at the meeting sir? Sounds like bar room talk to me. FIREBOMBS??

  3. JEFF SCANLAN says:

    George it was called a lantern festival.

  4. JEFF SCANLAN says:

    George, I hope your house was upwind.

  5. Kale Dolfin says:

    Not sure why my posts regarding who signed the Walker Recall Petition aren’t allowed to be posted here, since it is a matter of public record. I didn’t mean to violate any rules here.

    In any case, with regards to Mr. Scanlan’s post, I’d strongly suggest that he and others look up the officials voting on this matter, in the public record of the Walker Recall Petition signatures which is available online. A number of these officials have signed the petition, strongly indicating that they are progressives. Do what you legally can to purge them from office. Progressives are notorious anti-Christian bigots, so there may be more motivations involved here than just zoning and drainage concerns in those who are voting against it.

    @George Bailizts, even more amusing is the fact that those people generally tend to be small-minded public officials, who fancy themselves as little dictators.

  6. Joey d. says:

    The best of intentions for sharing God’s love and bringing across the prospect of New Life, has constantly been challenged by the restraints of dogmatic walls purposefully erected upon the back of opinion without credence. Credibility speaks volumes from those who’ve found new life and its sustainable resources through both God and integrity. God teaches us how to use both His Word and integrity to help fulfill His promises. What an incredible opportunity we’ve been given here to have lives changed in the twinkling of an eye; to be a part of a family that has your back, when you’ve been told there is no longer hope. Perhaps coming from a big city has dulled my impression of people actually loving and caring about others, calling the idea a waste of time; what I’ve learned about TRUTH, and GOD, and
    accountability to each other, has been the best part of my New Life Experience.

  7. Jeff Scanlan says:

    In Randall it all comes down to if they can make money. There’s no money in Churches.

  8. Kale Dolfin says:

    @Jeff Scanlan Certainly not for progressive bureaucrats who like to have their hands in other people’s pockets.

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