Hello, everyone….we at Sonshine have been in a wait and see season these past few months. A lot has happened since we last posted. Our focus has been to find a home base for the groups to stay, because we currently don’t have the funds to purchase land.
This effort has been real challenge because of all the road blocks that God has place in front of us in each prayerful path we took. We first tried to use public camp grounds as home base, so we could have groups visit during the summer of 2014. After a summer of 2013 meeting with the National Forest Service to discuss our proposal, they told us we would be using public land for a money making service and that would require a permit. Well the Forest Service is not giving out permits to new organizations/businesses. No permit…No home base. So route #1 in obtaining a ministry home base was closed.
We then prayed God what is our next step, and early this spring the thought of using our private land came upon us. CJ and I own about three acres with a corner section that is wooded with a stream, which we thought would be a great location to place the tent pad sites. We spoke to our ministry Board and they thought it was a great interim solution to accommodate groups for the summer of 2015. So I met with the County staff to discuss what would be required of us to make this work. The County required us to submit a land use change application, which included a public hearing.
The application required to the preparation of a site plan, construction of a bath house, and an analysis the showed that our septic and well could be expanded to accommodate the additional usage. We thought that the endeavor was going to be very expensive, but we were wrong =-). We were able to prepare most of the documents ourselves which saved us a lot of money. The septic analysis and survey work had to be hired out, and their fees ended up being much less than expected. We were able to complete the land use change application by the end of June to get scheduled on the end of July County public hearing. We were all very excited about the possibility of hosting groups next summer, and felt that the way things were falling into place that this was a slam dunk. Prior to the public hearing, we met with our closest neighbor to discuss our proposal. They expressed their concerns about visual impacts and safety, so we made every feasible attempt to accommodate their concerns in preparing the application.
CJ works for Monarch Mountain and she had a scheduled visit to central Texas to promote Monarch in early July. Her plan was to visit businesses, universities, and churches to discuss group skiing opportunities. We thought it would be a great opportunity for us to promote Sonshine as well. During the trip, we visited about 26 churches talking about Monarch for winter group visits and Sonshine for summer group visits. We got back to Colorado on an spiritual and emotional high from all the excitement and positive feedback we received about Sonshine. We were ready for the next hurdle to be cleared which was the public hearing. Once that passed, we would then proceed to the design stage. The county staff provided a staff report that indicated that our application fit within the policies of the zoning district our property was location within. They also provided some conditions that they wanted to include in our application, and we felt those conditions were fair and reasonable.
We were prayerful before the public hearing, asking God for courage and peace in our hearts regardless of the outcome. We asked him to close the door if this is not what He wants, and that we are ok with it. Well, when we arrived at the public hearing we found out that all but one of our neighbors were opposed our proposal. Four of our neighbors spoke at the hearing and the remaining mailed letters of opposition into the County. At the public hearing, I made a short presentation and then the public had a chance to speak. Well that was were everything went south. Our neighbors adamantly expressed their opposition and that fueled the planning commission members in taking a position to try to find a way to deny the our application. A few of the commissioners felt that our application fit within the policies and were taking a position of approval. So it seemed we had support from a few of the commissioner, but the ones that opposed it from the get go, persuaded them to eventually oppose it. The final vote was a unanimous vote to deny our application. Through out the circus of a public hearing, we were all at peace with the out come, because we knew that God was in control. We know that he had us go through this process for a reason. Maybe it was us to learn the overall land use process for a future occasion or God’s vision of Sonshine may be different than the one we have right now. We aren’t sure but through out this process we have been praying for His guidance.
As we stated before, we are waiting for God to show us the next step. So now we are at the point, that we need prayer from our family, friends and supporters. We currently see numerous options for Sonshine:
• Sonshine is able to raise the funds to purchase land.
• Sonshine is donated land.
• Sonshine leases land.
• Sonshine partners with an existing Christian organization in implementing our vision.
• God to show a new path.
As you can see all of the options include outside support. So, if any of you have any ideas, questions, want to help support, and/or know potential contacts for us to connect with, please contact us. We would love the support and input. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.