Barriers to Henderson church expansion cleared

When a Henderson church began proceeding with its plans to add a school and other buildings, a developer objected, calling the project "too massive."

Supporters of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church then responded in force, with more than 2,500 weighing in on the issue in one form or another. Many packed the Henderson City Council chambers Tuesday.

The council temporarily shelved the matter on July 17 at the request of CE Homes, which had appealed a Planning Commission decision to approve the expansion. On Tuesday, the council unanimously denied the appeal after learning a compromise had been reached.

"At the end of the day, we got the two sides together," Mayor Andy Hafen said.

Nevertheless, several nearby residents complained that they were not informed about the proposal before it went to the Planning Commission.

"What I do know is that many of us have lost faith in the process," Gayle Brock told the council.

Attorney Richard Gordon, a parish member who represents the church, attended the council meeting with its pastor, the Rev. John Assalone. Gordon said Henderson has not had a Catholic school since 1970. The new school will serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

"We are ready for the next stage in the church's growth and development," Gordon said after the meeting.

The church, on 20 acres at 2300 Sunridge Heights Parkway, received a conditional use permit in 2002 for construction of a parish hall, main church building and a school. Only the parish hall has been built.

One condition of the permit required that it be amended if any future phases were to exceed 35 feet in height. On June 14, the Planning Commission approved an amendment to the use permit, allowing the construction of a chapel and administration building. The amendment also allowed construction of a church with a bell tower rising nearly 80 feet in the air. A cross atop the tower would have raised its height another 8 feet.

According to the appeal by CE Homes, signed by manager Josh Anderson, "The project is too massive and will have an adverse impact on the adjacent property. The traffic is overwhelming, and there is insufficient parking."

Records reflect that Anderson spoke at the Planning Commission meeting.

According to the minutes, "Josh Anderson, 2248 Horizon Light Court, stated he is opposed to the project due to incompatibility with the surrounding neighborhood, height, and inadequate parking."

He also spoke at the council meeting Tuesday evening, saying he was satisfied with the resolution.

"I was never opposed to the church, never opposed to the school," he said.

Tracy Foutz, assistant director of community development, said CE Homes owns lots in the Canyon Edge subdivision on the opposite side of Sunridge Heights and plans to develop them.

Henry Korejwo, who described himself as an active parish member, spoke in support of the church expansion at the City Council meeting on July 17 and again on Tuesday. He urged members of the council to consider all of the positive contributions the parish and its parishioners have made to the community.

Korejwo said the parish has grown to include about 6,000 registered families.

Before Tuesday's meeting, Henderson spokesman Bud Cranor said 2,524 people had expressed their support for the expansion project, while 26 had opposed it.

He said church representatives worked with the appellant and submitted a modified plan Monday.

Cranor said church representatives agreed to lower the height of the church and the grade of the ground below it. That means the bell tower will stand nearly 69 feet tall, with the top of the cross reaching nearly 77 feet.

"People don't realize how tall that is," Brock told the Review-Journal. "It's a six-story-tall building."

The bulk of the church building will be about 46 feet high.

"It's a tiered structure," Gordon said.

Cranor said church representatives also have agreed to provide adequate parking.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at or 702-384-8710.