Constitution

Draft property utilization resolution

Here is a draft resolution to the Bethany Constitution regarding property utilization. The draft will be considered at a  congregational meeting scheduled for 10:40 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 15. Read on under the "Constitution" tab for more information:

BETHANY LUTHERAN CHURCH CONGREGATIONAL RESOLUTION REGARDING PROPERTY UTILIZATION #2
(Revised Draft)
(For submission at the Special Congregation Meeting on October 15, 2017)

   WHEREAS, the possibility of utilizing a portion of the property of Bethany Lutheran Church for affordable housing or similar uses has been the subject on ongoing discussion in the congregation for many years: and
   WHEREAS, on January 29, 2017, Bethany Lutheran Church adopted a resolution regarding property utilization at its annual meeting, which resolution provided as follows:
   RESOLVED, that Bethany Lutheran Church re-affirm its commitment to support those in need in the Bainbridge Island community, including those in need of affordable housing; and be it further
   RESOLVED, that Bethany Lutheran Church re-affirm in principle the commitment made by the congregation 25 years ago to explore the use of a portion of its property as a site for affordable housing; and be it further
   RESOLVED, that the Bethany Lutheran Church Council, in furtherance of this commitment in principle, be authorized to appoint a task force as soon as reasonably possible to evaluate the current advisability and feasibility of developing and using a portion of the congregation’s property for affordable housing or similar purposes, including consultation, as appropriate, with Housing Resources Bainbridge, Housing Kitsap, Compass Housing Alliance, and/or other organizations/entities that have expertise in affordable housing; and be it further
   RESOLVED, that the task force shall report and bring recommendations to the Church Council no later than October 1, 2017, regarding the results of its evaluation.  
   WHEREAS, a Property Utilization Task Force has met on a number of occasions since January to address the responsibilities delegated to it in the previous congregational resolution and provided an interim report to the Congregation Council in June (see Exhibit 1 to this resolution); and
   WHEREAS, the Task Force has reached a consensus on a number of issues related to the advisability of moving forward with an affordable housing project (see Exhibit 2 to this resolution), and also concluded that congregational discussion should take place and a consensus should exist before developing a specific proposal; now therefore, be it
   RESOLVED, that Bethany Lutheran Church continue to re-affirm its commitment to support those in need in the Bainbridge Island community, including those in need of affordable housing; and be it further
   RESOLVED, that Bethany Lutheran Church approve the preliminary conclusion of the Property Utilization Task Force that it is “not just advisable but urgent to proceed with a plan to develop Bethany’s property for affordable housing” as well as affirm the issues on which the Task Force has achieved consensus, as follows:

  • Our goal is to provide affordable, sustainable housing on Bainbridge Island.
  • We would like Bethany’s project to be a model for replication elsewhere.
  • Stewardship of the property is important, so the preference is to maintain Bethany ownership.
  • Property management should be provided by someone else (HRB, for example).
  • The developed property must be aesthetically pleasing and attractive to the congregation and the neighborhood.
  • We want to collaborate with other congregations and faith-based groups on Bainbridge Island in this project.

   BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Property Utilization Task Force is empowered to proceed with its work, in collaboration with partners in the faith community on Bainbridge Island and in concert with the Mayor of Bainbridge Island’s Affordable Housing Task Force (the “AHTF”), to develop a specific plan for developing Bethany’s property, including architectural design and financing possibilities, with the goal of presenting the proposal for congregational review and approval as soon as reasonably possible; and be it further
   RESOLVED the the Property Utilization Task Force is authorized to expend up to $5,000 for the developing a plan to utilize Bethany’s property, subject to oversight of the Congregation Council.

EXHIBIT 1: Interim report to the Congregation Council from the Property Utilization Task Force

June 2, 2017
Bethany Lutheran Church Congregation Council
Re: Interim Report of the Bethany Property Utilization Task Force

Dear Bethany Congregation Council:
    In this Pentecost season, I write to provide you an interim report from the Bethany Property Utilization Task Force (affectionately referred to as the “South 40 Task Force, version 2.0”!).  We thought that it would be advisable to provide you an update of our work before the summer begins and because our required reporting date in October is rapidly approaching.  This report represents the collective thoughts of our task force.

   By way of background, the task force (consisting of Colleen Chupik, Tom Croker, Barbara Deines, Dick Heine, Ed Kushner, Judy Roman, DeMar Sather, along with Pastor Paul and me) has met each month since the congregation adopted the Resolution regarding Property Utilization at the congregation’s annual meeting in January.  In addition to task force members, we have had special guests at some meetings, including Bill Reddy, Chief Operating Officer of Compass Housing Alliance and formerly Executive Director of Housing Resources Bainbridge, Phedra Elliott, current HRB Executive Director, and long-time HRB board member Don Heppenstall.  We also have been in contact with Stuart Grogan of Housing Kitsap, and I have conferred with Bainbridge Island mayor, Val Tollefson.  Our discussions have been both informative and robust, as we have reviewed the history of congregational discussions regarding Bethany’s property and assessed the needs of our community.  Although much work remains to be accomplished, we want to provide you an interim report and our consensus so far.  We also have learned that both HRB and Kitsap Housing would be willing partners to work with our congregation in a plan to provide affordable housing on Bethany’s property.

    The resolution adopted at the annual meeting asked our task force “to evaluate the current advisability and feasibility of developing and using a portion of the congregation’s property for affordable housing or similar purposes . . . .”   Thus, the threshold issue for assessment is whether it is currently advisable to move forward with the development of the “south 40” for affordable housing.  While the issue of “feasibility” is multi-faceted and complex and the task force has much work remaining to accomplish, there is a strong and unanimous consensus on the task force that the need is acute on Bainbridge Island and the time is now to plan to develop a portion of our property to address the need for affordable housing in our community.

      We also understand and appreciate — and the enabling resolution recognizes — that the congregation has in the past committed to pursue such a course, but plans have never materialized for a variety of reasons, both internal to the congregation and external in the community.  After extensive conversation over a period of a number of meetings, however, we concluded that “that was then, and this is now”.  In reaching this opinion, we recognized that the community need for affordable housing has grown dramatically, and the historical uses of Bethany’s “south-40” no longer represent good stewardship in light of the acute need for affordable housing on Bainbridge Island.  In this regard, we reviewed the Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan and the Housing Needs Assessment, which both underscores the acute shortage of affordable housing in our community and calls upon the faith community to work together to address this issue. (See the enclosed excerpts from the Comprehensive Plan for information regarding housing goals; for your ready reference, the link to the Housing Needs Assessment addressing the need for affordable housing on Bainbridge Island is as follows: https://wa-bainbridgeisland.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/7811.)  In addition, we also heard from Bill Reddy and Phaedra Elliott regarding the extent of the current problem, including the fact that the most significant shortage is in affordable rental properties. Both the Comprehensive Plan, the Housing Needs Assessment, and our expert consultants underscore the urgency of the current situation.

      In addition to concluding that it is not just advisable but urgent to proceed with a plan to develop Bethany’s property for affordable housing, we brainstormed at our meeting in late May and identified issues on which we have a consensus.  Here is the list of those issues:

  • Our goal is to provide affordable, sustainable housing on Bainbridge Island.
  • We would like Bethany’s project to be a model for replication elsewhere.
  • Stewardship of the property is important, so the preference is to maintain Bethany ownership.
  • Property management should be provided by someone else (HRB, for example).
  • The developed property must be aesthetically pleasing and attractive to the congregation and the neighborhood.
  • We want to collaborate with other congregations and faith-based groups on Bainbridge Island in this project.

      One other important point warrants mention.  The mayor and City Council are forming a task force to look at affordable housing on Bainbridge Island.  We believe that it is very important to have participation from our congregation on this task force.  Already, Ed Kushner has graciously agreed to serve, and we anticipate that other members will do so, too.  We believe that working with the city’s task force presents a unique opportunity to develop synergy with the city, to explore collaboration with other congregations, and to develop a potential pilot project that can be replicated elsewhere on Bainbridge Island and beyond.  In other words, we can more effectively tackle the complexity of feasibility issues if we are working with the city and its task force as opposed to undertaking a solo project.

      On behalf of all the members of our task force, it is a privilege to work on this project and, in the words of our former presiding bishop, to exercise "evangelical missional imagination" on how to be good stewards of Bethany’s resources and be a constructive, forward-looking member of the Bainbridge Island community.

David Swartling
Task Force Convener on behalf of the Task Force

EXHIBIT 2:  Summary of the vision of the Property Utilization Task Force

Bethany South 40 Task Force: Our Vision
   “Spirit, Spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness calling and free;
   Spirit, Spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind   
  
Our women see visions, our men clear their eyes,
   With bold new decisions your people arise.”

 (#396, “Spirit of Gentleness”, paraphrase of Joel 2:28)

Out of conversations with city officials, local architects, sustainable builders and housing experts, a vision for affordable housing on Bethany’s property begins to take shape.  Our task force puts forth the following ideas for the congregation and council to consider as we move forward:

  • We support the role of Bethany Lutheran Church as neighbor, and not as landlord. Our housing solution should not be managed by Bethany, but by a third party.
  • The solution would be fully funded, affordable and financially sustainable into the future.
  • A healthy living community would include housing for mixed occupancy/mixed populations, and families. This includes different sized units and community gathering spaces.
  • As good stewards of God’s creation, we support a sustainable/green building solution that would both preserve our existing open space and also serve as an example to the larger community.

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