EAU CLAIRE — A church currently housed in a space at an Eau Claire shopping center is planning to build itself a new home.
Saving Grace Lutheran Church, 2124 EastRidge Center, filed plans with the city to construct a 15,600-square-foot church on vacant land off Jeffers Road.
Eau Claire’s Plan Commission will review those plans and a related request to rezone the land during its 7 p.m. Monday meeting.
Following a decision of that commission, the City Council will then hold a public hearing on May 24 before making a deciding vote on the church’s plans the next day.
The church’s plans show a long driveway leading off Jeffers Road to reach the larger portion of the odd-shaped lot where the church and its parking lot are slated to be built.
The 4.8-acre lot is just south of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in a wooded area next to a small neighborhood and land the city owns for the purposes of creating a group of affordable homes in the future.
Designs for the church building itself show a large sanctuary, gathering areas, a kitchen, choir room and numerous offices and storage rooms.
The church is requesting a variance on the 35-foot building height limit for a quiet residential area to have its building be eight inches taller than that threshold.
“With this site location tucked back off Jeffers Road approximately 550 feet, we feel a slightly taller building would be acceptable,” stated the church’s plan submitted to the city.
The church’s belfry will extend even higher, but that is exempt from the requirement that limits the building’s height.
If the city grants its approval to the church’s plans, it anticipates to begin construction soon with hopes to finish by the end of September 2022.
Saving Grace Lutheran Church was formed in 2013 by members who left Grace Lutheran Church, 202 W. Grand Ave., in a dispute over the older church’s choice to remain affiliated with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Saving Grace Lutheran Church is affiliated with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, an association that arose in 2001 in response to more liberal views adopted by the ELCA.
The church is currently located in EastRidge Center, a two-story office and retail building located off South Hastings Way in Eau Claire. The center’s other tenants include Highland Fitness, CCF Bank, a U.S. Army recruiting office and various other businesses.
Also during Monday’s Plan Commission meeting:
• Anton Smets and Rae Schilling are seeking a permit from the city to build a second home next to their current one at 28 Newton St. on the same lot in the city’s Historic Third Ward Neighborhood. However, owners of five neighboring homes are asking the city to deny the permit because they feel the new home’s proposed design is inconsistent with the neighborhood’s character and does not comply with certain policies in city planning documents.
• Countrified Investments received city approval in March 2020 to construct a seven-unit apartment building on the empty lot at 1566 Ball St., but is now changing its plans. Instead the company is seeking the city’s approval to build a four-plex there instead.