Countryside Bible Church received the Southlake Planning and Zoning Commission’s informal blessing to proceed with the next phase of its building plans.
But the commission at its June 4 meeting asked that the church work with its horse-riding neighbors to solve an access issue to a nearby four-acre riding trail system.
The P&Z recommended approval for a zoning change and site plan for Countryside’s planned expansion on its lots on Countryside Court near White Chapel Boulevard. It will be up to the Southlake City Council at a future meeting to decide whether to formally approve the church’s requests.
Countryside elder Bryan Chandler presented to the commission the church’s plans to construct a 37,200-square-foot worship center with 12,000 seats. The church is also discussing adding an additional parking lot. The requested zoning change would give the church detailed site plan district zoning on both of its adjacent lots, 250 and 301 Countryside Court.
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Commission members said they have no problem recommending the site plan and zoning request to the Council, but they would like for the church to try to work out with neighbors the possibility of providing a path through which horses could be ridden along a narrow swath of the church property so riders can reach a nearby city-designated equestrian trail head.
Chandler said the church began asking riders not to cut through the property for safety reasons after a children’s center was constructed at Countryside. “It’s not a compatible use,” Chandler said.
Doreen Bruton, who runs the Ride with Pride Horsemanship School, said she has no problem with the church’s zoning change request, but she does want to see an easement through the church grounds for equestrians to pass through the property.
Outgoing P&Z Chairman Robert Hudson said allowing equestrian access isn’t a condition for the owner receiving the requested zoning change. But he would like to see something worked out between the church and local riders.
“We can ask him to consider it,” Hudson said. “I’m not sure I would deny zoning for the building to allow equestrian access, but it just doesn't really feel right.”