De Pere Life Church wins rezoning battle for new location

De Pere city council meeting, December 15, 2015. (WLUK)

A De Pere area church has taken a fight before city hall and won.

Life Church received approval from the city council Tuesday night to move into a new location.

More than 100 parishioners from Life Church packed De Pere City Hall Tuesday. Some had to watch the meeting from overflow rooms.

It's a common theme for parishioners who face the same overcrowding issue at the church's current building on Mid Valley Road.

"We don't have the time to build on, we don't have the time to build in another location. We don't wanna turn people away and it's getting to that point and that's not what any church should have to do," explained Sonny Hennessy, Executive Pastor for Life Church.

The parish has grown exponentially over the last three years. About 1,500 people attend three services most Sundays.

The auditorium can handle about 500 at a time, meaning some watch the services on tv in the church's coffee shop.

So church leadership bought the former Sportsman's Warehouse on Lawrence Drive, which has been empty for about six years.

The problem? That site was zoned for commercial use, meaning it couldn't be used for a church.

"The plan commission recommended denial because it was very restrictive zoning, it's very specialized zoning and they wanted to keep it that way," explained De Pere Mayor Mike Walsh.

The decision to rezone the location went before the city council Tuesday.

Dozens of parishioners talked about the need for the church to move and about how the church has changed their lives.

Some famous faces even turned out to support Life church: Packers players James Jones, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery.

"It's actually been a great opportunity in the midst of this opportunity for our people to come together to go, 'we need this and this is why we need this," Hennessy told us.

In the end the council voted 5 to 3 to rezone the old Sportsman's Warehouse location, paving the way for the church to move.

The three council members who voted against the change declined to speak with FOX 11.

However, the church's executive pastor did.

"We can actually move forward and we really could make Easter now. So this is, we're grateful, we're grateful to De Pere and we're so glad this went positive," said Hennessy.

Walmart and Menard's are both located near the church's new chosen location. Church leadership told us both businesses have given their approval for the project to move forward.

The parish hopes to be in its new home by Easter.

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