The Middleton Plan Commission approved the concept for Cross Lutheran Church last week. The building would be located in Bishops Bay, next to the Inspire Early Childhood preschool.

Rev. Joel Brandt stated that construction could begin as early as next year.

In a proposal submitted to local officials in September, Brandt requested that an amendment be made to the master development plan (MDP) for Bishops Bay to accommodate his congregation.

“Cross Lutheran Church would like to request that the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport consider a change to the MDP for the community of Bishops Bay,” Brandt explained, “which would combine several undeveloped parcels of land alongside Hwy. M.”

Per the proposal, seven residential lots on the eastern edge of the development would be merged together to form a 2.8-acre commercial lot upon which Cross Lutheran could build its church.

It would be located on the west side of Hwy. M, in the Farm neighborhood.

According to real-estate developer Terrence Wall, the site would be serviced by public utilities – a municipal requirement which has stood in the way of previous proposals made by the church.

“We’ll be submitting a GDP and then an SIP,” Wall said, “or the church will be. And then it’ll have full urban services. So there’ll be water and sewer. You know, we already have the stormwater (facilities) in place. So everything will be provided full urban services.”

Commissioner Jennifer Murray said that the location “seemed appropriate.”

“It seemed like a reasonable location,” Murray said, “relative to some of the other components of the development and where they would place the larger traffic generators.”

One question left unanswered was whether the seven residential lots would be moved elsewhere.

“That is another issue,” said Westport administrator Tom Wilson at a Nov. 20 zoning-committee meeting. “I suspect that the Town of Westport would not support moving any more of those lots to anywhere else in the town unless there was a reconfiguration or a change to the annexed area.”

The developer said he does not intend to forfeit any of the lots in Westport.

“We’ll look at moving those elsewhere in Westport,” Wall said at the Nov. 26 plan-commission meeting. “We have 394 lots that are approved in the town. So we wish to keep that.”

Commissioner Kurt Paulsen noted that the town had already expressed opposition.

“On the issue of whether they move them somewhere else in Westport,” Paulsen said, “I think it’s fair to say that the town had a different perspective than you might on whether and where those might go.”

Wall argued that the viewpoint expressed at November’s zoning-committee meeting was the opinion of a single person, and did not represent the stance of the governing body at large.

“One person does,” Wall said, “not the town as an official position.”

Paulsen said that the potential reconfiguration of lots in the town of Westport was a moot issue, as the committee’s action would address only the site for the new Cross Lutheran Church.

The plan commission granted conceptual approval to the church on a 8-0 vote.

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