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Help! My city is turning into a commune

OMG, I knew this was coming but I was hoping my city council (Longmont, CO) would stand up to it. I should have known better. They always have meetings and take polls, and then competely ignore what the people want anyway. It’s happened time and time again since I’ve moved here. After this last bit, though, I’m about to give up hope for good.

There’s a megachurch about 3 miles from my house that has just gotten approval to annex a giant chunk of land (near a beautiful park, by the way, where they will completely ruin the view and atmosphere). Guess what they are going to build? OK, so I gave it away in the subject line. A frakking commune. Here’s what it will include:

A $25 million fitness and athletic center containing 160,000 square feet with a gym, pool, and medical facilities called ProAction Sports Arena. Cost of memberships to the health club will be about 20% higher than a YMCA. LifeBridge Church will move into a section of this building for several years until their full church building is completed. ProAction Arena will be one of the first buildings constructed in the Union development. (Daily Times-Call May 24, 2006)

158 Estate Homes valued at least $1 million per home; 157 Active Adult residential values at $500,000 per home; 450 senior homes both single family homes and group residential homes valued from $250,000 to $275,000 per home. (BBC memo to Mr. Kevin King, LifeBridge Christian Church April 10, 2006).

208,500 square feet of retail and commercial space including a 50,000 square foot grocery store.

A $55 million tax-exempt fellowship hall and office totaling 275,000 square feet (Council Communication Dec 19, 2006)

A $59 million tax-exempt Education Center totaling 295,000 square feet.

A tax-exempt Worship Center consisting of 430,000 square feet with 6,000 seats costing $86 million to construct. (Council Communication Dec 19, 2006 and Union Traffic Impact Study by Delich Associates Nov. 2006).

The total inflated value of construction over a 40 year period would be $697 million with $200 million of this total being tax-exempt (current construction value of $610 million). (Note that the tax-exempt portions, were annexation to occur, would still be provided with City services at taxpayer expense.) Bond proceeds would total $58 million from the proposed metro special district – using tax-exempt financing.

WWJD? I think I know. He told us in His Word, after all:

Matthew chapter 21

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them
that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables
of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called
the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Damn! Even though Jesus is dead and I don’t believe in his deity or the religion founded on his teachings or in having a personal relationship with him (he’s dead, after all), I really kindof like this guy. Fortunately, Colorado Ethics Watch seems to be on Jesus’s side, too:

LONGMONT — A Colorado ethics group wants the city to hand over all documents pertaining to LifeBridge Christian Church’s Union development — including e-mails between church and city officials and information about whether city employees or City Council members attend the church.

Colorado Ethics Watch submitted a lengthy open records request Thursday for all applications, proposals and correspondence related to the church’s 348-acre development on Colo. Highway 119, just southeast of Union Reservoir.

The project includes plans for 300 to 700 homes, as much as 680,000 square feet of commercial development, and up to 1 million square feet of religious and civic construction.

Chantell Taylor, director of CEW, said several Longmont residents contacted CEW after the council approved the Union project Tuesday night.

“Until we get the responses, it’s difficult to see what’s been made available to the public and what was withheld,” she said.

CEW mostly wants “full disclosure” about possible tax exemptions for commercial and residential development, she said.

CEW also asked if any members of the City Council or city employees who worked on the development attend the church — which claims between 3,000 and 5,000 attendees — and “whether they might have any potential conflict of interest,” Taylor said.

“In general, on votes of City Council, they have to recuse themselves if there’s a conflict of interest on a particular vote,” she said. “We just want to know if somebody should have recused themselves.”

In its open records request, CEW also asked for “any and all correspondence between employees of the city of Longmont, members of the Longmont City Council and representatives of LifeBridge regarding the LifeBridge annexation.”

I don’t know if this ethics group has any clout, or if the city council will pay any attention to them either. What’s a girl to do? I guess it’s too late to run for city council. Anyone know how much time that requires and what it takes to run successfully? (I know, you have to believe in God, right?) There’s been a lot of talk around the blogs I frequent lately about athesists and skeptics running for school boards and local office. I think we should all start considering this seriously.


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. Wow, I didn't know you live in Longmont! I live in Westminster and go to Longmont quite a bit, at least in the summer.

  2. Hey slavdude, are you on the Denver Skeptics Meetup? I'd like to see some more atheist activity here, but the local groups seem pretty dead/boring. I'm much more interested in the religious side (as I'm sure you can tell from my posts), than I am in the other woo topics. Soon I'll get off my ass and try to scare up some new atheist events. I'm very jealous of the Minnesota atheists group.

  3. You forgot that one about the rich man, a needle, and a camel's eye.

    (Although I don't know if the joke also includes a rabbi and a bar.)

  4. bug_girl, it's a rich man, a camel, and the eye of a needle.

    But anyway, I can't help keep wondering what good could be done if that $700million was used to provide food, shelter, and clothing for the homeless and poor in our state. I guess this shows the real priorities of these people. They say that they don't want to government to give handouts, that the churches should be providing help to those in need. But when push comes to shove, they are full of shit.

  5. Yeah, the hypocrisy there is pretty blatant. I hope this CEW group gets some kind of results. At least they're trying.

  6. Wow, I'm really sad to here this. I live in Westminster, CO. With all the stuff in the Springs with Focus on the Family and what not, I fear that Colorado may be starting to get over run. I grew up in the springs after moving from Utah, and is was so nice and pretty liberal (considering all the military) until those Focus on the Family nuts set up shop!!! Thats why I move up here to the Denver area in the first place!!

    Good Luck to all of us!

  7. writerdd,

    Nope. I'm lucky I have the bandwidth to do the stuff I want to do. If there's a newsletter, though, it would be good to get it.


    I agree. Sadly, Colorado, which used to be a bastion of progressive, live-and-let-live thought, is turning into a clone of the Bible Belt.

  8. That's a "commune??" That's a frikkin' C.E.O's spoiled brat's country club! (old man's voice) Why in my day, we had real communes! They were broken down farms in god-forsaken parts of northern California, where our hair grew long and our vegetables didn't grow worth crap! So we grew pot and sold it for food money, got high and had sex with everyone who came along, and sang Guthrie and Dylan songs 'till we ended up in the free clinic with Tuberculosis, Gonorrhea and malnutrition! Now that was commune livin'! It meant somethin'! We had principles! Time for my nap.

  9. I agree with Richard Wade. Your title threw me. I was expecting you talk about a real commune (like the one Richard described). What that church is building isn't a commune, it's a country club.

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