Petition grows against megachurch Eagle Brook’s proposed Plymouth location

Concerns about megachurch development in Plymouth

Concerns about megachurch development in Plymouth

As Minnesota-based megachurch Eagle Brook held its premier services in its 11th location in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, a 12th location is expected by the end of the year in Maplewood, and a petition against a potential 13th location in Plymouth grew.

A petition against the Plymouth location had garnered more than 2,300 signatures as of Sunday. Petitioners claim Eagle Brook’s services are often over-capacity, which could cause traffic to clog up the neighborhood.

“With a purchase agreement in place, Eagle Brook will work with the City of Plymouth to seek appropriate approvals. Construction could begin in early 2024 and finish in mid to late 2025,” read a quote from Eagle Brook Church Senior Pastor Jason Strand in a press release dated Aug. 28.

Jonathan Coots, who lives nearby on the Corcoran side of the proposed site (currently farmland on Chankahda Trail), accounted for one of those signatures. He was also a part of conversations surrounding a similar proposal by Eagle Brook in the City of Corcoran that was ultimately denied by the city. Another Eagle Brook plan fell through in Minnetonka last year.

“This is not an attack against EBC or anything like that, right? This is about a large industrial building, right? And being in people’s backyards,” Coots said.

“I would like to be informed homebuyer. I think everybody would like to be, and up until this, we probably all felt we were. And now we’re not, because here comes in this massive industrial building that let’s be honest, is the size of a Best Buy. That does not make a good neighbor to me.”

Eagle Brook Church has been active at a temporary location at Wayzata High School in Plymouth for 5.5 years, according to campus pastor Mike Emmert, who said they set up and tear down in the auditorium every week.

The services averaged about 1,100 congregants each Sunday in 2022, according to Emmert.

“And in the past when any of our mobile sites have gone to a permanent campus, that all usually can double — and up to triple — in size,” he said.

The size is the crux of the issue, according to Coots and fellow petitioners. No formal building plan has been submitted by Eagle Brook, according to Plymouth city officials on Friday, but Emmert said on Sunday that church leadership envisions a 70,000-square-foot facility with 600-700 parking spots.

“So you’re going to have a cavalcade of cars running through a neighborhood during prime family time,” Coots reacted.

“And you can’t tell me that that doesn’t introduce a substantial level of safety [concerns] for small children.”

Coots said, based on preliminary information, he expects parking to spill over onto residential streets.

“If we were talking about a 25,000 square foot building, in Corcoran, we wouldn’t have had [a] problem. In Minnetonka, we wouldn’t have had a problem. And in Plymouth, we wouldn’t have a problem. But that’s not what we’re talking about,” he added.

Eagle Brook Church has been working with the city to address those concerns, according to Emmert.

“The city is going to be doing a comprehensive traffic study that we’re hoping to pay for, just to find out what’s happening there,” he said.

“And this isn’t the first time we’ve done this with our multiple campuses, learning to really know how to do traffic well on a Sunday, and so, working well with police departments, so hopefully we can calm people in that way.”

Emmert invited neighbors to a meeting with church leadership on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at Wayzata High School, where he said they can openly express concerns that the church plans to address.

City officials said they’re in the process of reviewing a traffic plan that Eagle Brook submitted recently.