Eagle Brook megachurch drops plans to build new campus after backlash from local residents

An Eagle Brook Facility in Minnesota.
An Eagle Brook Facility in Minnesota. | Facebook

The multisite Eagle Brook Church in Minnesota announced it has dropped the plan to build its 11th metro-area campus in a residential neighborhood in a Minneapolis suburb after backlash from local residents.

“Although we would have loved to become a part of the community, we have made the difficult decision to not pursue the development at this time,” Eagle Brook’s Expansion Director Steph Hauber said in a statement about the megachurch’s plan to build a 60,000-square-foot church with a 1,200-seat auditorium and a two-story parking structure off Wayzata Boulevard area in Minnetonka, Star Tribune reported.

The church said the decision was made in response to a “variety of known and unknown variables,” without mentioning opposition from residents, the newspaper said.

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More than 1,260 residents signed an online petition against the church’s plan.

“The traffic, environmental, and quality of life impacts to residents is immeasurable (not to mention the financial impact due to the immediate devaluation of surrounding homes),” the petition says.

The church had planned to build its campus “on a residential horseshoe drive (two lane) which can only be accessed via the Wayzata Blvd. frontage road (two lane) on a parcel of land currently home to countless wildlife species and which includes protected wetlands,” the petition adds.

“It’s not about the church,” resident Kristen Gildemeister, who launched the petition, said earlier, according to the Tribune. “It’s the size and volume of traffic and displacement of wildlife.”

Gildemeister added, “The two services Saturdays and Sundays, 1,100 cars coming and going during a 45-minute window, would have just made living here awful.”

Resident Ginni Greffi said the value of her house would drop at least 20% in value if the church built its campus near the neighborhood. She added that residents had requested the church either downsize its plans or build it in an industrial area, Fox 9 reported. 

Local residents also submitted letters to the city and spoke against the church's plans during a Minnetonka Planning Commission meeting last month.

The church says on its website that it “exists to bring people into relationship with God through Jesus Christ, to draw them into a Christ-centered community, and to help them grow in their faith.”

In 2020, after the church’s senior pastor Bob Merritt retired, he told The Christian Post that things were tough for him because initially there was some contention among the staff and church membership with his hiring.

“In the first year, almost didn’t make it,” he recalled. “I had an associate who basically wanted my job and he didn’t get chosen. So he was tough to deal with for a year. Some people left the church as well because they weren’t sure I was the guy. Then in the second year, we went from 300 to 400 [members], then from 400 to 500 and then it just started to climb.”

By year 10, Merritt said the church had grown to over 5,000 people.

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