New Q&A’s starting with Question 25 down below…
1. Q: I have a concern about objection by the neighbors to the north especially about the stated height of the proposed buildings of 3-4 stories.
A: The neighbors within a 500 foot radius will be invited to a hearing by Sacramento County. Architects are able to design and mitigate such concerns by setbacks and the use of foliage and trees. Trees will be subject to environmental review and as such may need to be left in the master design
2. Q: Would Carden School be interested in extending a lease of the school classrooms beyond 2022 if the Bethesda Communites (BC) partnership is not successful?
A: Certainly Carden would be a good long term tenant if they can re-establish their school and grow. The administrators are hopeful that parents will be searching for a classical education to help their children catch up academically after the current pandemic situation eases. At this point they are looking at our site as a two year start up, but at Town and Country Lutheran Church (T&C) they would have the facilities including classrooms, playground and athletics that could accommodate expansion.3
3. Q: Sharing a pastor with BC is a new factor. When did this get added?
A: Sharing a pastor has been offered by BC as a possible way to strengthen the proposed partnership and as a way to ease the financial burden on T&C. The more the Executive Team looked at the reality of calling a pastor the more we realized that the concerns of a previously called pastor about T&C’s finances needed to be addressed as we get to the position of calling a pastor. Balancing a budget of a church worshiping 90 on a Sunday while expending $11,000 in mortgage payments will be a continuing problem until it is addressed.
NOTE: The concept of a Shared Pastor has been removed from the Letter of Intent. It will be AN OPTION in the Purchase Agreement to be determined at a later date
4. Q: At one of the initial meetings with BC representatives the terms “partnership” and “ministry opportunities” raised interest. What will this look like?
A: When presented with a possibility of 100-150 prospective members and souls next door to our church we can imagine the possible ministry opportunities. This Cornerstone project is a new concept and we don’t have an example to point to concrete examples of what it may look like. However a similar situation has occurred recently in Hales Corner Lutheran Church in Wisconsin, who has begun a partnership with Steeple View, a residential community for the the elderly. Our leaders have been invited to travel to have a look at what ministry is being done there with a shared pastor. The shared pastor is referred to as a chaplain.
5. Q: After the sale of the property, what are the contractual responsibilities of T&C towards BC, and of BC towards T&C?” E.g. Will BC be entitled to schedule our sanctuary and/or friendship center? For how many hours? With what priorities? The Letter of Intent states: “Bethesda understands the Sanctuary and the gymnasium and associated ministry space is not a part of this proposed redevelopment concept and shall not be a part of this redevelopment plan.” Does this mean that T&C will have no contractual obligation to make the sanctuary and the friendship center available for use by BC? Or does it only mean that these spaces are not being remodeled? What other resources are we sharing? For example, T&C will depend on BC for adequate parking.
A: Of course, as partners BC would have access to our Friendship Center and sanctuary. Shuffleboard, pickleball and other recreational activities have been mentioned in discussions about the Friendship Center. The Friendship Center is not part of the BC design and development.
It is true that BC is actually paying T&C for the existing parking lot. The architectural design will include repesentatives of T&C every step of the way as a partner as the community is developed from concept. Details regarding hours and priority of use would be an excellent topic for ongoing discussion.
6. Q: The letter of intent states that it is BC’s vision to “Forge a collaboration between T&C and BC that supports the ministries and financial sustainability of both organizations.” What does this obligate us to do?
A: BC representatives have been clear from the start of discussions that in this project BC and T&C are partners in Christian ministry. The reason that the Executive Team has raised the asking price is to guarantee the financial sustainability of T&C. BC representatives are presently calculating whether their financial proformas which will incorporate 120 residential units or more will be in line with ours given the asking price. Please PRAY that these two financial projections are compatible!
7. Q: What will happen to the trees in Camp Jackrabbit and the new barbecue pits?
A: A mandatory environmental review may require that some of the established trees be preserved. Aesthetically, the site design would be wise to incorporate as much green space as possible, but this is subject to requirements for parking, access, easements and residential square footage. Ideally, we would like to find another location for the barbecue equipment if they can be moved. In the meantime let us plan to celebrate the Eagle Scout project by using them!
8. Q: What will happen to the playground structure?
A: The structure no doubt has value if it can be transported. We know of a Christian School which is interested in it. Of course, Carden School would desire use of it within their possible tenancy. The two newer modular classrooms may have value as well. T&C has the contractual right to sell or dispose of both the playground and modular classrooms.
9. Q: Sharing a full time pastor, is the cost shared by both?
A: BC is currently sharing a Pastor at another site in Wisconsin. They call it a Chaplaincy position, and involves the Pastor spending about 8 hours of his workweek ministering to that senior living community. We anticipate the same scenario hear, and are proposing that they fund 20% of our Pastoral budget once they are up and running.
10. Q: Since the parking lot is also being sold, is that staying a parking lot or is that going to be built on?
A: They have not yet developed a site plan, and so we don’t know exactly how things will look. What we do know is that we will end up with the same amount of parking that we now have – at a minimum..
11. Q: I am wondering if the sale price is going to cover our debt. And if not will the congregation be able to pay the remainder?
A: The entire sales proceeds will go toward our existing loans, and our proposal back to them leaves about a $350,000 unpaid balance. The balance will then be refinanced, and the Congregation should be able to fully service that new loan.
12. Q: Since the committee has been working on this and we really have not heard to much about what changes will be make except for the buildings that will be torn down and the amount of land that will be sold including the parking lot. I was wondering if you could share with me what type of changes might happen for our congregation?
A: We will not know what things will physically look like until their site plan is developed. We envision that their community will create a new ministry opportunity, and that our current ministries will not be affected much, i.e. things going on at Friendship Center.
13. Q: How did BC find us for this project?
A: Pastor Walt Tiegen, the father of Linda Pugh from Heartsong is on the BC board and informed them of our land and closed school. I don’t know what came first, them looking in the Sacramento area, or him bringing up the Sacramento area.
14. Q: What staffing will BC hire? Does it expect the church to fill some roles? (Example: landscaping, front office, etc.)
A: I don’t know, but we can look into.
15. Q: What are the full expectations of church participation if we move forward. As examples, it is mentioned that we will share a Pastor and that Cornerstone Village will be a focal point for outreach for our members. How much time will the Pastor be expected to serve there? Are there requirements from the congregation to outreach to those living at the facility? Is there a detailed agreement we can see that further explains these requirements? Have we reached out to other churches that already participate to see what kind of role they fill?
A: Other than the shared Pastor, I don’t think any of these items have been looked into, but we will follow-up. I am attaching a position description from one of their communities in WI, I understand that the Pastor devotes approx 8 hrs per week (hence us proposing they cover 20% of our Pastoral expense). The communities website is https://steepleview.org/ , and the associated church is https://www.hcl.org/ .
NOTE: The concept of a Shared Pastor has been removed from the Letter of Intent. It will be AN OPTION in the Purchase Agreement to be determined at a later date
16. Q: Are there any penalties or anything if we don’t have a pastor for an extended amount of time? Will the pastor requirements fall to members of the congregation?
A: I think the only downside is that we will continue to be served by an Interim Pastor, which most likely limits our potential for moving forward and growth.
17. Q: What proportion of the units will be for affordable housing?
A: This is not yet finalized, but I think they are looking at 20 – 25% adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and 75 – 80% workforce housing or independent seniors. I don’t know what if any percentage might be subsidized housing.
18. Q: It seems like we have to be 100% committed in order for BC to put any effort in to their research in to the project. I want to understand correctly that if we vote yes, there is still a chance that the project won’t work out due to affordable housing subsidies, entitlements or the like?
A: They have stated 100% commitment. I don’t know if this is a rock solid requirement for the Congregation, or if it just pertains to leadership? It seems to me there are many hurdles after we agree to sell, and the deal could be cancelled if each hurdle is not overcome.
19. Q: What happens if zoning changes do not go through?
A: If any of the hurdles are not met, the deal is cancelled. They expect that they will know within the first 6 months if cancellation will occur, but they have the entire approx.. 2 years.
20. Q: What’s the selection criteria for people wanting to live in the project?
A: I haven’t seen anything specific, but I assume for disability it will be some type of Govt determination, for subsidized housing it will be income based, and for seniors they say 55+.
21. Q: Does the property need to be rezoned? If so, what is the process? How long would it take? Is there a sense that the county would be amenable to such a change?
A: The county planning department will decide whether this type of residential building is acceptable under the current zoning which is RD-5. The application will take months. We do know that there is a desire on the county’s part to provide more affordable housing. Bethesda’s initial research indicates that a housing development such as this is very desirable.
22. Q: Has there been any community outreach about this proposal? As much as I am supportive of the idea to provide a Christian living space for a certain population of our community, I am concerned that some of our church neighbors would be against the plan for such a community and try to take steps to stop the permits, rezoning, etc. necessary for the project to move forward. I can envision that some of our neighbors may be biased against this community and make arguments against the community such as stating it would lower property values.
A: There has not been outreach to date. We understand that Bethesda intends to canvas the neighborhood to communicate in advance of a public hearing with neighbors. The advantages of Cornerstone Village could be shared in a personal way. People of Town and Country have expressed interest in being part of this effort, in fact it might be combined with some spiritual outreach if packaged sensitively. In any case, communication with neighbors will be a form of outreach, making connections between church and neighbors. Bethesda is a well – established institution with an excellent reputation and would strive to develop the campus as attractively as possible.
23. Q: In order to build this facility, would the remaining structures on the campus also need to be upgraded in order to get approval for the permits/rezoning, etc? That is, would the sanctuary and remaining classroom be required to be ADA complaint in order to build? Would the members of this community need ADA compliant facilities in order to participate in church functions?
A: If the proposed 4.5 acres are sold to Bethesda, the development would include parking to adequately accommodate T&C. Typically when new development takes place on any parcel, the parcel needs to be brought up to current code. When the Friendship Center was constructed the campus facilities were brought up to code then (2006). Whether the existing buildings would have comply with new codes since the parking will be examined will need to be researched.
Upon sale, we will be doing a parcel division and the parcel owned by BC would be required to be ADA compliant but should not impact any adjacent parcels (i.e. T&C) with ADA compliance. The state and city can be more restrictive than federal so maybe there is some other local law that would come in to play.
24. Q: Since part of Bethesda’s purchase is the existing parking lot where will we park?
A: Bethesda will incorporate the current parking area into the entire site plan. Of course, they will design the site for convenient parking and access to the sanctuary and Friendship Center. Additionally, we will continue to have 90 parking spaces during the construction phase. We consider it a blessing that Bethesda offered to purchase the parking area for approximately $100,000.
May 24th Town Hall Meeting Questions and Answers (new)
25. Q: Once we as a congregation sign a Purchase Agreement have we committed to the sale?
A: Yes is the simple answer, but Bethesda has two years to research the entitlements required, the possible subsidies available, neighborhood sentiments and approvals and be sure the project is financially viable. At any time the project may be determined by Bethesda to be unfeasible before the sale becomes final in two years.
26. Q: What other options have been pursued to sell the property?
A: The storage company across Norris was interested in purchasing the field for parking boats and RV’s. We suggested they contact us if they could offer $1 million. No contact was made in response. In December 2019 the broker referred to us by the LCMS, Foundry, had recommended that we consider a sale of the property since the rental market for schools was not producing any potential renters who would want more than half of the classrooms.
27. Q: Since Bethesda will own the land for Town and Country’s parking lot will T and C members be required to pay for parking?
28. Q: How can we monitor who lives in the housing units?
A: Potential residents will be screened by management. Some will be Lutheran, some non-Christian affording an opportunity as a mission field. Bethesda is committed to having top-shelf management and will abide by Fair Housing laws.
29. Q: Has it been decided that the affordable housing will be for seniors?
A: Although that is the goal, whether the affordable housing will be designed for seniors or not will be determined by the outcome of the subsidy applications to governmental agencies.
30. Q: What interest does Trinity Lutheran Church, Walnut Creek, have in this project?
A: Since they are closing their doors June 30, 2020 and have $4.3 million to disperse in grants they are seeking Christian ministries to support. Bethesda’s ministry is of high interest to them. They are open to a grant of $200,000 to help the due diligence efforts of Bethesda in establishing Cornerstone Village. If the project moves forward in two years the grant funds would go directly to the ministry of Town and Country. Additionally, Trinity has promised to fund a shared equity ownership in
31. Q: Will Bethesda have any employees on site?
A: It is most probable that two employees will manage the property and oversee the activities aspect of the community.
32. Q: From the Town and Country’s Discovery Team’s perspective, what ministry opportunities will be possible in Cornerstone Village?
A: Bible studies could be conducted and groups could craft objects for the benefit of the local or distant communities in Christian service to others. If Town and Country does not commit to this ministry Bethesda would find another LCMS church to partner in ministry at Cornerstone.
33. Q: After three years what will be the financial status of the church?
A: The executive team projects that a called pastor will have been serving for two years’ time and T and C is projected to have $90,000+ in reserves. This would provide a cushion for a projected annual budget of minus $20,000. Since Cornerstone Village is projected to open at that time it is a possibility that Town and Country and Cornerstone could agree to share a pastor in ministry together. Although this concept may or may not be a recommendation of the current Discovery Team, a shared pastorship would enable Town and Country to approach a more balanced budget.
34. Q: Why are we discussing this during the COVID 19 pandemic…. Why can’t we wait until we are able to meet again to decide this important event in the church history?
A: There are three connecting reasons for the Executive Team proposing to have a vote on June 7th to approve the Purchase Agreement:
1. Bethesda has projected a two year timespan to complete all of the steps necessary to get the project started in June 2022. Their work includes all the permitting and entitlements necessary. This includes the applications for government subsidies for affordable housing. Bethesda reports that deadlines for these subsidies occur in July and August. If the annual cycle for applications is missed it is possible that the due diligence period will be extended for another year.
2. The cash flow analysis for the church shows that paying on the current loans in full for three years will exhaust all reserve funds and have us in a serious negative cash flow situation. As we have learned it is unlikely to attract a pastoral candidate with such a financial forecast. If the proposed project timeline is successful Town and Country’s loan will be cut by $1.5million in 2022.
3. The potential grants from Trinity Lutheran Church, Walnut Creek, are time sensitive as their church closes its doors on June 30, 2020.Simply put Town and Country’s contemplation of this sale has been affected and delayed past the original congregational meeting date of April 5 by the COVID 19 pandemic. We believe God has given us a window of opportunity for approving this project of ministry next door to Town and Country that will greatly assist the financial health of our church. The timeline that Bethesda has shared with us is a timeline that also affects the financial feasibility for Town and Country.