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Land sale proposal dies in committee; Vote terminates Church on the Move’s expansion plans

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Church on the Move Pastors Shawn Kelly and Troy Smothermon study a slideshow presentation regarding the intention to purchase land surrounding the church for future expansion. The church sent had submitted two requests for proposals to purchase the land from the city of Roswell. (Alison Penn Photo)

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The Roswell City Council’s infrastructure committee on Tuesday voted to turn down a reissued request for proposals for future development from Church on the Move.

After a lengthy discussion, Councilor Caleb Grant made the motion to send to full council a recommendation to deny the second re-issuance of the RFP. Councilor Jeanine Corn Best seconded, and the measure carried unanimously.

City Engineer Louis Najar said the staff and evaluation committee recommended denying the request. Concerns centered on right-of-way issues for future extensions of South Union and Washington Avenues, on either side of the 901 W. Brasher Road church.

The church wanted to buy land surrounding the church from the city for future expansion. Najar said Church on the Move’s plan is to build a sports complex and a youth building, with an interest in two tracts of land forming an “L” around the current church building.

“The committee felt it was in the best interest to terminate the RFP,” Najar said. “The proposal is detrimental to the development of this parcel.”

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The area in question is between South Main Street and South Sunset Avenue with West Brasher Road and Monksdale Road as the boundaries. Najar said the concern was the RFP would take away the city’s access to sewer and the water utilities on South Union Avenue — as well as future access to Monksdale Road. Other nullifying factors were that the proposal did not detail future zoning; there was a negotiable timeline; and the offer did not meet the reserve price, according to Najar.

He said coincidentally, Roswell Chaves County Economic Development Center and Xcel Energy have marked a portion of that land as qualifying as a certified site for their development-certified site program across eight states. The Xcel website said this program helps speed up the process for businesses to find locations for expansion.

Committee Chair Juan Oropesa said in his opinion, it would be in the best interest of the church if the RFP was terminated. Pastor Troy Smothermon said the church was “fine with whatever” the committee decided.

After saying the church would be willing to trade access to Washington Avenue on their current property, Smothermon said the church paid for some sewer lines and would continue to do so. Additionally, Smothermon said the property had been vacant for a long time and asked if the city has the funding or plans to extend the streets in the near future.

Grant said the land has been plotted and Najar said the city will place utilities when a customer takes over the parcel of land.

Expressing traffic concerns related to South Sunset Avenue and South Main Street, Best asked how the utilities can be brought south, where the city intends to develop — and if Xcel will comply with this request, which Najar confirmed.

She said she understood the church’s position and said she felt frustrated about the potential traffic issues and blocking off future development of south Roswell.

Grant asked about implementing a utility easement as the city has done in the past. Planning Manager Bill Morris said the difference in this situation is it would additionally need a right of way easement because the intent is to have a vehicular traffic opening to the south of town.

Najar said the city had fulfilled its public duty under state statute. Since the request for proposals process has occurred twice, the city can negotiate with any interested party within a 45-day period.

The next step could allow Najar, Morris, the church and other potential parties, along with any involved members the council deems necessary, to enter into negotiations over proposed plans after the full council casts their votes on June 14. If a decision is made, the proposal will come before the committee and full council for the final decision on the property sale.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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