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Freedom Church presents case for Special Use and variance request

Vote scheduled for March 16 Village Board meeting

LANSING, Ill. (March 3, 2021) – “I am so appreciative of the Village of Lansing,” said Pastor Thaddeus Searcy at the March 2 Village Board Committee of the Whole meeting. Searcy was there to provide information and answer questions about the Special Use and variance request for Freedom Church Ministries. “[Lansing] is just an incredible village. …And we want to build something that will last in the village of Lansing.”

Freedom Church
Pastor Thaddeus Searcy of Freedom Church Ministries addressed Trustees and the public at the March 2 Committee of the Whole meeting. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Last year Freedom Church purchased the campus previously owned by Illiana Christian High School (2261 Indiana Ave.). They met with the Planning and Zoning Board to request a Special Use to allow a church in a residential district. A variance is also required because Freedom Church would be located within 750’ of Oak Glen United Reformed Church. The Planning and Zoning Board agreed last March to recommend Village Board approval, but the pandemic altered Freedom Church’s timeline for occupancy.

Searcy and Freedom Church are now hoping to have their first in-person worship service in the remodeled building on Sunday, March 21, pending Board approval. 

Residential concerns

Residents from the surrounding neighborhood voiced some concerns during the public comment portion of the March 2 meeting. “My back yard is facing the main parking lot there,” said Eric Spolmar, who lives on Violet Rd., “and I went through a lot with the kids at the high school, with loud music after basketball games and all kinds of stuff.” On occasions when Illiana’s parking lot was full, cars were known to circle around on Violet Rd., sometimes parking there and blocking driveways. Searcy had said Freedom Church would be limiting attendance at worship services to 222 cars—the number of parking spaces on the campus—but Spolmar is worried that special events such as weddings and funerals could draw larger crowds, as could the basketball tournaments Searcy had shared as an example of how Freedom Church wants to use the building.

Tina Arteaga submitted a public comment virtually that questioned whether “another church in this area is the best allocation of resources.” She also cited complaints about garbage removal, leaf pick-up, snow plowing, and the general upkeep of the building and property. Village Administrator Dan Podgorski pointed out that the area is zoned as an R2 Single-Family Residential District, so it cannot be used for commercial or industrial purposes. “You’re only ever gonna get a church or a school there,” he told the Trustees.

The vote for approval is scheduled for the March 16 Village Board meeting.

Residents who have questions about Freedom Church’s Special Use and variance request—or who would like to comment on other municipal matters—are invited to contact their representatives directly:

Village Board meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings take place at the Municipal Court Complex (the police station) at 2710 170th Street on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for March 16, 2021.

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Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.