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Ridge Community Church Gets Approval to Move Into Walmart

The moves open the door for the Ridge, to use approximately 60,000 square feet of the property for church-related functions with the rest of the building, or 50,000 square feet, to be leased commercial space.

The Ridge Community Church moved one step closer to permanently moving to Greenfield – again.

More than six months after the city in a residential area – – the city once again paved the way for the Ridge to something even more dramatic.

On Tuesday, the Greenfield Common Council voted to amend the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan at 4500 S. 108th Street, a nine-parcel piece of land that currently houses , from planned business to planned mixed us and rezoned the property from regional business district to planned unit development.

The moves open the door for the Ridge, which has an accepted offer-to-purchase the entire property, to use approximately 60,000 square feet of the property for church-related functions with the rest of the building, or 50,000 square feet, to be leased commercial space.

“We’re really excited about it because we feel it’s a win-win, not only for us but for the city as well,” said Pastor Mark Weigt, who was joined by 50-60 members of the Ridge’s congregation.”

No residents spoke out against the church at Tuesday’s public hearing, though two sent letters that voiced their displeasure with the proposal. Both raised concerns about what the rezoning would do to the city’s tax base. Churches are tax-exempt, but Weigt tried to ease those concerns.

“We are committed to protecting a portion of the property taxes on that facility, no matter who leases that out in the future,” Weigt said. “We look forward to being part of this community in this way.”

Steve Anderson, president and CEO of Anderson Commercial Group, told the Common Council that he has been in discussions with several possible tenants, but could not share any of those potential tenants.

Alderperson Thomas Pietrowski voted against the change in the comprehensive land use plan and the rezoning.

“Having a church on a valuable piece of commercial property really underutilizes the piece of property,” Pietrowski said.

The next step for the church to present a building design to the city.

lbaklc July 18, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Best wishes to the Ridge Church. I trust Mr. Pietrowski will come to see the value of houses of worship in the Greenfield community.
Jason July 18, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Wow a mega church and a Wal-Mart. Yep. I certainly do not want to hear people complain about taxes going up in the next few years.
Lee July 18, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Maybe the Ridge Church will donate real property tax dollars to the city of Greenfield. That at least is one way to pay back for the gift they were just given. At least Alderman Pietrowski was on top of his game.
Steve Rogers July 18, 2012 at 12:22 PM
congratulations to the leadership and members of the Ridge church ... we at elim applaud your rapid growth and the positive impact you have and will have in our community ... I, personally want to thank the leadership of our city for having the bravery and the foresight to welcome and approve of the Ridge growing into our city and not driving them out ... Hwy, 100 and the rest of our city will be Blessed as a result of your tough decision and stand for values that have served this nation so well from it's founding till now... makes me wanna get all patriotic and sappy and say something like... well... I donno... God Bless America & God Bless Greenfield... these are decisions of course that GOD really can bless... thanks and I'm so proud and thankful to be a part of this great city... we are pledged & posed for progress....
robert heule July 18, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I've always been skeptical of bizarre zoning changes to benefit a particular religion. A church belongs in a residential area not in a revenue generating commercial area. By removing the property from the tax rolls under these extreme circumstances borders upon government subsidizing religion. Not long ago a Mormon church (I'm not a Romney supporter) was denied rezoning as was a Buddist temple. Alderman Pietrowski was right on this time. When the church leases part of the property to a particular business, will it discriminate on the grounds that the business violates its belief?, and what role will the City of Greenfield play in such a decision?
Jason July 18, 2012 at 03:10 PM
This is great. Can't wait to see the positive impact The Ridge church has on the community!
JustMe July 18, 2012 at 07:24 PM
What kind of made up religion is it?
Paul July 18, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I hope people can look past the dollar signs and look at the human lives that can be helped by having the Ridge.
robert heule July 19, 2012 at 12:12 AM
@ just me, please don't question the validity of the religion. It weakens the efforts to lobby for a Mayoral veto, which I hope you would join.
robert heule July 19, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Jason, why would Ridge Church have any more positive impact on the community than any other church? Because of its size?
Lee July 19, 2012 at 12:36 AM
And how do you know human lives will be helped by having the Ridge? This really is about prime real estate being "given" away, not about the church.
Grnfld resident July 19, 2012 at 01:29 AM
The use restrictions on an empty Wal-Mart store are too numerous to list. So if it comes down to an empty building on Hwy. 100 vs. a church serving the community, it sounds like the Common Council made the right decision. We look forward to seeing a visible, energized Ridge congregation putting down permanent roots.
Lee July 19, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Who is we? Speak for yourself. Use restrictions my foot! A skating rink could have provided the same visible energized permanent root thing too. Amen and pass the collection plate.
robert heule July 19, 2012 at 02:04 PM
The size of Ridge Church's membership was the primary factor in the Council's decision for approval. A mass lobbying effort was successful in gaining approval,while smaller congregations have been denied in the past. The Common Council apparently believes that "larger religious voices" deserve more favorable treatment than others. All churches should be treated the same by the government.
frank kooi July 19, 2012 at 06:36 PM
what a joke. we need lower property taxes, not made up churches. build a real church building on a less valuable piece of land. cheapens up greenfields portion of highway 100. once again always 2nd rate!
robert heule July 19, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The Patch article said "the city once again paved the way for the Ridge to do something even more dramatic". Why did the "city pave the way" for a church using the peoples resources to aid a particular church. Is this a part of Mr. Erickson's Economic Development program? One thing is for sure, the issue is becoming more dramatic by the minute.
robert heule July 19, 2012 at 08:19 PM
HINT! It may be time to consult an organization located on East Buffalo St. in Milwaukee.
robert heule July 20, 2012 at 03:13 AM
DISCLAIMER: I do not support or agree with comments like "made up" church or any derogatory language aimed at Ridge. I don't question their beliefs, just their influence on the city government which other churches don't seem to enjoy. Please don't destroy the credibility of those of us who oppose the city's recent action. Be positive.
robert heule July 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM
@Paul, Is Ridge the only church that can be help human lives, and by the way, human souls?
robert heule July 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM
@ Steve, and God Bless the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Maggie March 31, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Wow what a clever thing to say. Interdenominational churches are not "made up" They worship God, try to be good neighbors, and live lives just like everybody else. This space would have set empty like the old Wal-Mart and it's neighboring Sentry food store in Waukesha. Sometimes people are better off to keep their mouths shut rather than try to sound clever and show their lack of intelligence. I hope they do well.

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