Now, in December, church officials, residents and town staff are sitting together and working collectively to see if the Community Presbyterian Church's project can move forward. They all gathered at the Design Review Board meeting Thursday evening, Nov. 29, to discuss the church's proposal.
"From where we began, we've come a long way," said Robert Storer, Danville planning commissioner and member of the Design Review Board. "We are not quite there yet."
In April, the CPC submitted proposals at a Planning Commission study session to attach an 18,770-square-foot youth center to the south side of one of its existing buildings. It also proposed adding 112 parking spaces to its 330-space parking lot to accommodate the new center. Additionally, church officials wanted to expand CPC's school, San Ramon Valley Christian Academy; add an open pavilion and a 35-foot tower; and convert a house on the backside of the property into administrative office spaces.
Livid neighbors protested the CPC project and said the church has grown too much. Many of the planning commissioners agreed with the neighborhood's sentiment and urged the church to build elsewhere.
"Residents believe that there are parking and traffic issues with the current facility," said Jerry McHugh, a resident living near CPC.
However, in the past several months, church administrators have listened to residents' complaints and have been changing their designs to appeal to the neighborhood.
CPC took the original parking structure out of the plans, which would have been both underground and aboveground. Church officials also have abandoned the plan to convert the house on the back of their property into an office facility. Instead, they will integrate their administrative section into the front part of their main building, said David Crompton, town principal planner.
CPC has refined its architectural and landscaping plans, including separating an exit way that is shared by residents on the church's north side.
"This is a good compromise," Storer said.
Additionally, CPC lowered the tower from 35 feet to 33. And the church is doing a traffic study for the project.
"We spent a fair amount of time with the visuals," said Carl Danielson, CPC architect.
At last week's meeting, the Design Review Board and residents said they wanted CPC's pavilion to be enclosed to prevent noise from spreading. CPC is still considering this suggestion.
"The outside pavilion should be sensitive" to the neighbors, said Jim Wood, Design Review Board member.
"I would enclose the pavilion," said Sandy Varco, another member.
Overall, board members liked CPC's conceptual ideas and wanted to see specific details and blueprints of its plans.
"I'm comfortable with the overall designs," Varco said.
CPC has 2,400 to 2,500 members; it is growing and has maxed out its facilities, say church officials. It has a satellite church on Camino Tassajara, which meets at Diablo Vista Middle School. Also, it has a daughter church in San Ramon called the San Ramon Presbyterian Church, which is a separate congregation.
Three years ago, CPC submitted a significantly more aggressive growth plan that included a new 1,500-seat sanctuary, a parking lot structure over the existing lot, and several other major additions for administrative and classroom use. CPC withdrew this application in 2004 and made changes to accommodate to the town and neighborhood needs.
"We are looking to the town to do their due diligence," neighbor McHugh said.
"We are not trying to be an obstructionist. We want to see something positive there," he added. "The caveat is that we want to make sure things are done appropriately. What we are trying to do is approach this on a rational level. Maybe there isn't a problem."
Storer said everyone needs to exercise caution moving forward with the project.
"This has a lot of dynamics and individuals," he said. "Both sides have to be careful."
McHugh said things are different now than they were in April although residents still want more changes, including non-intrusive lighting and an enclosed pavilion. The neighbors also are doing traffic studies.
"We are talking about a different project," he said. "What happened six months ago has very little bearing on today."