Good news from Joe yesterday. Please read the following report from Doug Lucas and praise God for what He is doing at Emerald Hills:
Joe met with city officials to show them our building construction documents and encountered a very favorable response. His conclusion was that the plan was essentially "approved with revisions"… and the 2 revisions they had weren't outlandish. One involved a fire code that prevents us from having two open stairwells between floors of buildings of this type. This simply means we'll probably leave the internal staircase on the "road" side (Northwest), but on the "pond side", we'll actually install what will essentially look like a fire escape on the outside of the building. This metal staircase will be temporary and will only be needed until we build the next phase of the building which will include expanded office space and a downstairs dining hall. When we construct that wing of the building, we'll install an elevator (by code), as well as a 2nd staircase — again, by code. But it could not be an open one. No big deal at all. In fact, this decision actually saves us money in the short term.
In order to avoid building in an elevator in the current phase, we'll need to construct a code-approved handicapped accessible sidewalk leading to the back of the building, which will be a nice addition anyway.
The final item they mentioned will cost a bit more, but again, it's not *that* huge of a deal. They insisted that we install a sprinkler system in this building, partly because of the sheer number of people that could gather here someday — up to 300 in the upstairs alone (by calculation) and another 300 downstairs. To me, that's actually exciting, because it reminds us of the step up we're making in space. It goes without saying that having a safe, fire-sprinkled building is top priority too.
So Joe was encouraged. He asked them pretty directly, he said, "So what are we allowed to do out there?" The answer he received was that we can now proceed forward with essentially *anything* that we've mentioned in our master plan — the excavation, the Great Lawn, the ponds, the building, the septic system, … the works. Naturally, at each turn, we have to get sign-offs from relevant agencies to make sure we're doing things by code, but, for example, in the Prayer Center & Atrium, we're fully on track for that. Pull a staircase outside and add some sprinklers and we're good to go.
As a result, Joe has in turned signed off on his green light to plan a groundbreaking any time we want. He hopes we can begin on the excavation fairly soon, depending on the respective contractors and their schedules. (Money is still an issue, of course. Please keep praying for those next 14 partners to join "Project 29".)