New church facility in Las Vegas closer to reality

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the city of Las Vegas Planning Commission approved six variances and zoning items in favor of the International Church of Las Vegas for a proposed worship facility near the southwest corner of the Las Vegas Beltway and Cheyenne Avenue.

The church sought a variance to allow an 85-foot-tall tower as part of its planned 89,550-square-foot building. The vote went against the city's Hillside Ordinance, which caps building heights at 35 feet.

"Sometimes rules were made to be broken," Planning Commissioner Vicki Quinn said.

Other items included amending the land-use designation to include public facilities; rezoning to planned development; a variance to allow 175 parking spaces, where 375 are required; a ruling on patent easements; and site development plan review waivers of landscaping standards.

A handful of residents who live in the area spoke out against various aspects of the project, with most speaking on the height of the tower. They said it would bring down already depressed property values and ruin their view, including that of La Madre Mountain, where the project is proposed. They urged that the Hillside Ordinance, which went into effect in August 2007, be upheld.

Amy Brewster, a resident who opposed the tower, said her printed signs telling neighbors what the church planned were torn down and replaced by ones touting the church. Even so, she said she received numerous e-mails expressing concern.

"They need to revise their dreams or build this somewhere else," she said, adding that once it's built, "we can never get our mountain back."

Ron Portaro, consultant for the church, showed a timeline graphic on how church plans had begun before the ordinance went into effect.

"We have 4 million reasons for approving this," he said. "We have $4 million in pledges."

As soon as the unanimous vote flashed on the commission chambers' TV monitors, a crowd of about 100 church members began cheering.

"It feels amazing," Pastor Paul Goulet said. "I feel like crying. This has been a five-, six-year journey."

The matter is now scheduled to go before the Las Vegas City Council on March 18. The next step is the permit process, which can take up to a year. If approved, the project would break ground in one to two years and is expected to take 12 months to complete.

Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 387-2949.