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Church works to clear hurdles

In trying to build a home of their own, the Cedarwood Church congregation has gotten a lesson in patience.

The church, which bought the former Lenny's Landscaping site on the corner of Robert Trail South and Biscayne Avenue, has been working with the city for the better part of a year to try and start worshiping in a house they bought last spring.

The planning commission approved a conditional use permit Tuesday night, which moves the church one step closer to its goal, but it has taken a great financial and emotional toll on the small congregation.

"It has been a long haul for us and we've lost some families who didn't want to go through the process with us," said Cedarwood Pastor Michael Berg.

The process started in April when Cedarwood applied for a text amendment to the rural residential zoning code to allow churches in rural residential areas. Neighbors spoke against the project but ultimately the planning commission and city council approved the changes.

However, that was just the beginning. The church took ownership of the property but was told by city staff they could not meet there until a conditional use permit was approved.

So, the congregation has been meeting in homes throughout the summer. Berg added that at one point, the congregation had as many as 30 families but over time that number has dropped by almost half.

The process to get the permit has been long and frustrating, Berg said.

"It's hard because meeting in people's homes doesn't feel like church and some families just couldn't handle it," said Berg. "We're thankful for those who stuck with us."

The end result has been compromises, mostly on behalf of the church. The conditional use permit was approved with a list of requirements.

The conditions include putting a brick exterior on the large house the congregants plan to remodel into a meeting space. Additionally, several outbuildings will have to be torn down over the next year, a parking lot will have to be installed and other impervious surfaces on the property will have to torn out. The city also is requiring Cedarwood add berms and foliage around the main building.

"While I understand the city wants to make sure things look nice, the standards are prohibitive and seem ridiculous," said Berg.

Despite his frustration Berg said the church worked with the city to come up with a plan that suited both entities.

"We were honoring to the city. We felt like being able to have an open dialogue was important. I think we did it right and we're very excited to get to work," said Berg.

The city council has to approve the conditional use permit as well. It should be on the council's first September meeting agenda.

Being near the finish line, Berg said he's excited to get to work on the building and to start meeting there.

"We look forward to recovery," he said.

A new church

Cedarwood Church has been up and going since 2000. For most of its life the congregation has met in school buildings in the Apple Valley and Rosemount area. Berg said up until now building or buying land has been cost prohibitive.

"The Lenny's Lanscaping property was a good fit for us," said Berg.

A non-denominational church, Cedarwood is Bible based. Berg said the congregation is excited to become part of the Rosemount community.

"We want to be an asset to the community," said Berg.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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