By Abbey Woodcock
Grace Chapel, an independent bible church on Route 20 is looking to expand their current parking facilities.
According to Pastor Barry Sisson, the parking lot will no longer service the growing number of members each week.
"With attendance already growing past the 400 mark each Sunday, we need to plan for continued growth," he said.
When the church approached the planning board last year, they were told that in order to expand the current parking lot, they would need to lower their impermeable surface coverage to fit within the watershed requirements of 15 percent. Previously, it was the stance of the planning board that Grace Chapel was just outside the watershed. However, a few times per year, the property drains into the lake when a culvert backs up. This happens during large rain events, according to Town Engineer Doug Wickman.
" The area drains to a culvert that goes under Route 20 east of Grace Chapel. 99 out of 100 days, the water crosses under the road and proceeds to Nine-Mile Creek. If it is a large rain event, the amount of water entering the culvert backs up and come of the water then may travel south towards Skaneateles Lake."
The impermeable surface coverage is at 24%, which fits within the required 30% for outside the watershed, but since the planning board has deemed the land to be inside the watershed, the church cannot expand without presenting a plan for decreasing their surface coverage.
The planning board and Grace Chapel looked at a few options, one of which was building a detention pond to keep the water from draining into the lake. To build a detention pond large enough, it would cost between $300,000 and $500,000, according to Wickman. A more reasonable option seemed to buy some of the town's adjacent land to decrease the percentage to the 15% goal.