Life Church expansion moves forward with wetland rezone

May 8, 2012

Germantown - Life Church in Germantown hopes to expand to one day seat 800 people.

In order to expand the church located at N11325 Squire Drive, the Germantown Village Board first had to approve a conditional-use permit and a rezone, which they did unanimously Monday night.

After receiving the necessary permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers, Life Church was granted permission to fill approximately 8,000 square feet of wetlands. The village approved the removal of 9,261 square feet from the Shoreland-Wetland Zoning District. The church has plans to fill three different portions of the wetland area that is located in the northwest corner of the property.

Jeff Retzlaff, planning and zoning administrator for the village of Germantown, said as part of the conditional use permit, there will be mitigation areas adjacent to the wetlands that would provide the same flood protection for residents in the area. This includes enhancing the management pond, dredging and expanding it.

Retzlaff said the filling of the wetlands would not significantly impact flood storage, groundwater recharge, shore land eroding, fish spawning or breeding grounds for other wildlife habitats. As part of the conditional-use permit, a three-year monitoring program will be implemented for the area.

Germantown resident Millard Johnson, who lives on Crown Court, said his concern was about flood protection, which is something he and his wife have never worried about because of the current wetland area. Johnson was assured that the church will be mitigating any issues that could arise due to flood management, including enhancing the stormwater management pond.

Life Church draws about 1,200 people for four services at its two locations, one in Germantown and the second at the Marcus Majestic Cinema in Brookfield. The current sanctuary on Squire Drive seats 400 people, said Executive Director of Business and Finance Gary Pribanich. Over Easter, the church had about 1,700 people attend services. The church has grown dramatically since it was first started in Germantown in September 2000, where its first service had 35 people in attendance.

There are two buildings on the property, one is the sanctuary and the second is a student center. Combined, the two buildings occupy 17,000 square feet. The church is more than doubling its size with a 23,000-square-foot addition, Pribanich said. The renovation also includes construction of a new early childhood area, a play place and expansion of the elementary children's area and middle school and high school areas.

Renovation is slated to begin in fall of 2012 or spring of 2013, Pribanich said.

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