News

Christian Faith Center stirs strong feelings on both sides

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

Support and opposition of the controversial Christian Faith Center project in Federal Way were equally unwavering during a public hearing Monday.

Backers of the megachurch proposed for the south end of town resolutely insisted that if it’s built, Federal Way will be better off.

Critics of the project were just as insistant that it will do nothing or little for the city overall.

At least 71 people signed up to speak to the City Council during the hearing, one of the last prime opportunities for public comment before the council decides whether to approve the project. That verdict is scheduled for June 15.

Christian Faith Center wants to build a 218,000 square-foot church and a 104,000 square-foot school on about 50 acres. The land is south of South 336th Street, between Interstate 5 and Pacific Highway South.

Officials of the church, now based in SeaTac, have requested a land-use rezone and an amendment of the city’s comprehensive plan to allow the project at that location.

In addition to working on those requests, the church has dealt with traffic concerns and environmental impacts on nearby wetlands in its plans for the project. For certain traffic-related street improvements alone, the church has committed to spending nearly $600,000.

Development officials for the city have recommended approval of the plans.

If the council goes along with that recommendation, it will be over the objections of staunch opponents of the project, such as Irene Neville.

“I’d prefer a permanent tent city (of homeless people) over this church,” she said.

Lynn Bowen said the impact of traffic generated by the church and its members will be worse than its supporters like to believe.

Traffic from Sunday services, other church activities and the school is a major complaint from project foes, including people living near the site where the megachurch would stand.

But at least two of those neighbors had no such concern Monday.

“It’s the right kind of development” for the area, said Barbara Reid. Tom Rolfe, who said he lives across from the project site, made the same comment. He also noted he has “never been to their church” but admires the helpfulness and cooperation of Christian Faith Center officials in explaining their plans to him.

City officials said 500 analyses of church-related impact on road intersections have been done.

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