Construction Update June 2022
A message from Pastor JD
Purchased the property in March 2020. Clean out and initial demolition began summer of2020 while we tried to get contractors to bid the job. Hired Architect Mark Hitchcock todraw preliminary plans for building. Hired Carmine Casper, an engineer, to survey andprovide a site plan for building permit. Received building plans and survey results to submitto the State Fire Marshall. Received Fire Marshall Approval on third try in November 2020.
New Castle County did not allow us to apply for building permit because as a church thework is considered commercial, and the application must be submitted by a permitendorsed licensed contractor. After much difficulty getting contractors to come and givebids, in February, 2021 we settled on JH Contracting to renovate the structure for $167K.
Throughout 2021 we kept waiting for our building to begin. We completed the demolitionand began some framing to move the process along. All my calls to Joe (of JH Contracting)were met with the same response. “Our turn is coming, but he is very busy right now.” Bylate summer 2021 it was evident that our work would not start before winter. To speed theprocess up I applied for and obtained a permit endorsed contractor’s license in January to 2022.
The building plans had to be redrawn because of “change of use” requirements, primarilyrelating to handicapped access and regulations. Originally, we planned to use the mainhouse for services and the garage area for classrooms. This enabled us to divide the housein half as a mixed-use building. Our design changed to use the garage area as Sunday schoolrooms and a nursery which is a single use building even if we wish to use the Sunday schoolrooms as offices. According to New Castle County this changes the handicap requirementsnecessitating new building plans,
Upon receipt of new building plans I submitted the architectural drawings and the engineerssurvey with an application for building permit. The building plans passed on 3/16/22without many modifications. The site plan was rejected for being incomplete. Below is thenote NCC sent to me on 3/28/22:
A formal Site Plan submission to change the use from a residential dwelling into a church isrequired. The change of use from a residence into a church in the NC40 Zoning District shall belocated on and take access from a collector or arterial street. At its discretion and with DelDOTconcurrence, the Department may permit such uses to locate, expand or rebuild having accesson other streets where vehicular and pedestrian safety is not compromised and the localneighborhood is not adversely impacted (UDC Code Section 40.03.307.C) Kirkwood St GeorgesRoad is classified by DelDOT as a local road and the church use would need approval fromDelDOT and the Department to be located on a local road. Also, the church use has additional parking requirements, bufferyard opacity (landscaping, and different setback requirementsthan a residential use and variance(s) from the Board of Adjustment may also be required.
Suggest contacting a civil engineer or surveyor to submit a formal Site Plan to the Departmentfor review for the change of use from a residence to a church. Permits for the a church usecannot be issued until a formal Site Plan is approved by the Department.
I contacted Carmine Casper, the civil engineer who did the surveys to inform him that hissite plan was insufficient. He said he was not surprised because he never finished it.Apparently, a failure of communication between the architect and him. He said he is retiringand cannot complete the plan. I contacted several engineering firms in the area and finallysettled on PELSA Engineering (primarily because they were the most responsive and had thebest answers to all my questions.
Mike and Julian, the two civil engineers from PELSA that I have been dealing with, havegiven me a lot more information than I had before. Such as: even if our septic system is inperfect working order, we must have a new drainage field because the code for septic haschanged since the current system was installed and because of the change of use fromresidential to a church. There are many other regulatory bodies that must weigh in on ourproject. A partial list includes: DELDOT, DENREC, New Castle County Department of LandManagement, State of Delaware, State Fire Marshall...again, New Castle County Land Use,New Castle County zoning, etc.
While pestering Julian this week about what I can do to speed the process up, he said“Nothing. I just need to wait.” He indicated this process is normally lengthy when there is achange of use (i.e., residential to church). He predicts the earliest we can get a buildingpermit will be the end of summer if all goes well and the county is not being too picky.Worst case is a year or more. I’m praying for the end of summer.
We are staying right on top of everything and completing task as they come up. Forexample, the soil testing is done, and the wetlands inspection is done. The soil engineer isworking on a septic plan and proposal. He is currently coordinating with DENREC.
I know this is a lot of information, but it is only scratching the surface of all the little tasksand minutia that go into a project like this. I want everyone to be updated to the best of myability and to keep all our praying on the same page.
If you have any questions or would like more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or ask at our next church service!