Initial drawings of potential uses for the Shiloh church property were revealed at a public meeting on Thursday night.
The drawings, done by RDG Planning and Design, focused on environmentally friendly development, expanded recreational opportunities and a conservation neighborhood.
“This is a work in progress, like chapter one of a book,” Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh said. “This is a vision that’s been crafted from the previous meetings we’ve had.”
The drawings include a number of areas for nature preservation, including a preserved nature prairie and a woodland preserve with trails.
Drawings also show areas for single-family housing, multi-family housing near the existing pond and row houses.
Schlabaugh explained that studies show people prefer smaller lots when they are located near public amenities.
“There’s been a shift from large lots to smaller lots,” he said. “We looked at what’s most relevant today. If there are no nearby amenities, they want larger lots.”
A question was raised regarding who would be developing the residential lots.
“The city is not developing,” Schlabaugh said. “Annexation does not mean ownership.”
There was also discussion about uses for the existing church building.
Schlabaugh said that the Mid-Prairie school district’s facilities committee toured the building last month and expressed interest in using part of the facility for the district’s preschool program, as well as its 4+ program for special needs students still needing to be served after their senior class has graduated.
Carl A. Nelson and Company conducted a code review on the building to determine whether the facility was up to code to accommodate the school programs.
“We feel pretty confident with the code compliance on that,” Schlabaugh said.
He added that other parts of the facility could be used as a daycare facility and emergency or transitional housing for the county’s emergency management agency.
“The third floor has a lot of bunk housing,” Schlabaugh said. “That could be used as is right now.”
Schlabaugh also addressed the legal situation.
In May, three women filed a sexual abuse lawsuit in California against The Living Word Fellowship, the former parent organization of Shiloh.
Questions arose about whether Shiloh’s assets could be part of the lawsuit.
“We were provided a legal opinion from Shiloh’s attorney and turned it over to our attorney,” Schlabaugh said. “There’s nothing that says that what we’re exploring can’t be legally done.”
Other legal work that would need to be done is combining the parcels on the property.
The approximately 200-acre Shiloh property is made up of about 23 separate parcels.
“We need to clean up the boundaries,” Schlabaugh said.
On July 29, the city, Shiloh and Marilyn Farms will have a public work session.
The next public committee meeting will be Aug. 1.