Friday, July 19, 2019

Dream City moving forward

October 21, 2011  

By Ann Fowler

A campus for the 1200-member PromiseLand West Church, called Dream City, appears to be moving forward at its 53-acre site at 8701 State Highway 71 West. For Pastors Randy and Denise Phillips and Executive Pastor Michael Heflin, the campus will be a place where families can enjoy recreation and harmony.

Nearby residents are fearful that the harmony will come amplified via the 1,000-fixed-seat outdoor amphitheater. Locals don’t want the amphitheater, period, yet to Phillips, founder of the contemporary Christian music trio Phillips, Craig and Dean, the amphitheater is very much a part of his dream.

Comtemporary Christian music trio Phillips, Craig, and Dean is composed of (Pastor) Randy Philips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean (shown here in photo from an album cover). Since forming in 1991, they have released 12 albums and earned 18 No. 1 Christian radio singles. The group has sold over two million records. Some nearby residents worry that the Dream City amphitheater could become a convert venue.

At the October meeting of the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods (OHAN), Hill Country Estates resident Robert Kleeman expressed displeasure that the church had been granted a restrictive covenant by the city of Austin.  He felt that Greg Guernsey, a director of the city’s Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department, had exceeded his authority by granting it.

Guernsey told the Gazette: “Under Chapter 25-2-2 of the City Code, the Director shall make the appropriate determination of a use under the City’s Zoning regulations. In 2008, I received a request for a use determination for a church amphitheater from Mr. Carl Conley, P.E. on behalf of the PromiseLand. … It is my understanding the recently signed covenant matches the use determination from 2008.”

In a response to Conley, Guernsey wrote, “I have reviewed your letter and attachment. Since the worship building and the outdoor amphitheater are both being primarily used for religious assembly uses, I don’t see a problem with these two facilities co-locating on the property. I understand that the educational and musical presentations will be limited in scope and will be subordinate to the primary religious assembly use. I also understand the church will be compliant with all applicable City Codes and ordinances, including the noise ordinance.

“If the primary use of one or both of the facilities does change from a religious assembly use to an outdoor entertainment or an indoor entertainment use, a zoning change may be required,” added Guernsey.

In that December 17, 2008 letter, Conley wrote, “The church has met with the adjoining neighborhood representatives and have offered to restrict uses of the amphitheater, including dates, times and incorporate sound attenuation design techniques, in order to assure the compatibility with the adjoining residential uses. PromiseLand Church will continue to work with the neighbors even after any permits are issued to work toward being a good neighbor in the surrounding community.”

Although the residents are concerned that rock concerts could be held in the outdoor amphitheater, Conley’s letter suggested the intended uses for it include church activities (such as weddings, funerals and educational and musical presentations), as well as non-church related uses (neighborhood meetings, scout meetings, graduations, charitable fundraisers).

The restrictive covenant filed and recorded on October 5, states that the outdoor amphitheater is subject to all applicable City ordinance. Kleeman said, “There’s no way the city can enforce this.” He said any noise complaint would be investigated a week after the fact. “We really feel the [city] staff let us down,” he told the OHAN audience.


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  1. By Kevin McKenna, October 24, 2011

    This decision seems to fly in the face of what the people living in the surrounding communities wanted. This Entertainment venue masquerading as a Church is a shame. NO one in any of these communities objects to having a Church close by; everyone objects to having a concert venue right next door!

    If the Backyard was going to be located right next to your property how would you feel? And this “Amphitheater” is a concert venue, doesn’t matter what type of music they are playing call it what it is!

    Had I known that there was even a possibility of this “Church & Amphitheater” being built right next door I never would have purchased a home here. Do you really think this will have a positive effect on property values next door to this venue????

    After much effort from Community representative’s one person from the City of Austin makes this decision? Where were our Council Members on this issue? This is a reason why there are movements like “Occupy this…” and the “Tea Party”, people are fed up with Politicians not listening to what the people want.

  2. By jennifer Welch, October 31, 2011

    A church ( not a building ) is suppose to be made up of a community. It it not to fulfill man agenda. I am saddened an outsider would come into this community and take over. Stay in Westlake.

    I see traffic problems being an issue as well. I think in this economy better use of tithes and offerings would be to give to widows, orphans and the needy, not to build a “Christian complex”.

    What would Jesus do? Were large , and expensive christian complexes a part of the great commission? This looks like a place to make the flesh FEEL GOOD, not a place of the cross.

    Nothing biblical about’ A place where dreamers gather. Take the funds and re-build houses that were burnt down, feed the poor.

    Sad time for Oak Hill. Its just not the right fit. geeze.,…

  3. By M James, November 3, 2011

    Church? This is an opportunity for a money making outdoor venue in sheep’s clothing. They are able to sneak in as a religious assembly. Shame on them.

    I can speak from experience on the impact to property value. I live near Nutty Brown Cafe and was here long before it was built. My neighbor lost a home sale last year. The buyer backed out after driving by on a Saturday night.

    I will make sure I do not attend any of the events.

  4. By Allison Mireles, November 3, 2011

    I agree, I went to Seminary for 4 years so i understand the bigger better minister mindset. Bigger and Better will bring more christians’ to your church it will not bring the lost, in fact the thinking lost will want nothing to do with such a place. If enough people are bothered for it to make the news my hope is the leaders of dream city will reevaluate if this is the best move not just for their church but the whole christian community in Austin. My church is 200 yrds from my house and I can hear the worship practice in my room, I don’t mind because it is faint. However, I can’t even imagine an outdoor worship centre next door. I wish churches would focus less on better buildings for their rich tithing members and start thinking of the poor and those in need in this city…

  5. By M Judd, November 4, 2011

    So as I research more about this Pastor about to descend on our backyards in Oak Hill -it’s pretty clear fom his church’s Facebook page that he’s textbook “evangelist” – he’s telling people via Twitter-

    “God 1st in your life? your bank statement knows.“The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives.” Dt 14:23 (via @RandyPCD)”

    Seems so obvious it’s to pay the $8 million that he boasts only a few days earlier via twitter as he gets the check ready for his “Dream City”. And then openly boasts. “Neighbors are complaiining. Bulldozers rolling. Fun. Fun. Time of my life.”. Oh my, get ready Oak Hill. Ever heard of Oral Roberts and his “City of Faith” dream? We’ve got a new Six Flags Over Jesus destination coming to south Austin. Time to sell the house before the first concert. This guy is all about him. I wonder when he’ll start building his prayer rocket ride?

  6. By Ed Reynolds, November 29, 2011

    I think that the invasion and assault on any established neighborhood, a such as planned by Dream city on it’s neighbors can never be called the work of god, or anything remotely aligned w/the values of true christianity. I think it can be more accurately termed as manifestation of at least three of the seven deadly sins: * greed/ avarice * pride *, and a combination of lust (for status/power) and vanity ( the attitude that these people somehow “know better” about what’s good for the area, and we’ll all come around once we see their manifestation of god’s glory.)
    What a load! It’s a concert venue designed to make money in an area that is very lucrative for the musicians/ engineers and producers involved. I’m in the music biz, and I can tell you for a FACT that the primary goal of almost every single “christian” contemporary band is to produce what sells, and they use the best non-christian musicians engineers and producers to get out their commodity/product; doing market research beforehand to see what sells the most. It’s just another business, like Enron. Maximize those bucks. Sure: they’ll give a few bucks away to the needy, and advertise the hell out of having done it. Cheap advertising. Works every time.

    Ok: enough of that. Will the venue reduce property values and or downgrade the quality of life in the adjacent neighborhoods? Well; I was subjected, as were my neighbors, to a musical outdoor assault by Buddy’s corner store, who got a permit, and hired bands to Play LOUD enough so I could make out the lyrics in my home. I actually looked for real estate about 3/4 mile further away from that venue on HWY 290, closer to Hwy 71. I found a nice house, but then I realized how close I’d be to “scream-dream city” and I will not be buying that house.
    The quality of life will be severely compromised for almost all of you by hearing christian rock music inside your homes w/ the doors and windows shut. Your real estate values will drop. Personally; knowing the formulaic calculating money machine that is christian contemporary music: it’d annoy me in the extreme to hear ANY noise from that venue.
    There are lawsuits that can be brought for nuisance and depletion of property value, as well as deprivation of enjoyment of your home, and increases in stress levels leading to health issues. I suggest to all of you that will be effected by this venue to get together and get some lawyers working on it in advance. You can bet the
    D-city folks have their lawyers on this already.

    D/C ( dream city) is always going to try to put a good light on themselves. In an Austin Chronicle article Phillips is quoted: “The community will love it,” he ( Phillips) says with the ready confidence of a true believer.
    ( Is he so arrogant as to “know” what the community will love?)
    “The Dream City amphitheatre, he explained, will serve as an integral part of the community, providing a place for graduation ceremonies, recitals, ballets, family movie nights, jazz concerts, and other events. The church’s intent is to build a nondisruptive state-of-the-art facility, he said. “We are designing our amplification systems and natural berming to enclose sound.”Moreover, he said, “We will make our calendar of events known to the neighborhood representatives and encourage their input in events they would like for us to provide.

    Well; “What are they going to say?? … “We DON’T hope the community will use us as a resource”? PULEEZ!!
    SURE; they want your business!
    Also, having built indoor and outdoor sound systems, I can tell you that that “natural berming” as sound abatement does NOT work worth a darn close to adjacent neighborhoods. D/C is spouting a lot of hooey driven by greed. These people are among the most cowardly of criminals. They don’t even steal from you or screw up your life openly: They put a Christian face on it.

  7. By Morgan Vierheller, March 3, 2012

    The whole 71 corridor “makeover” will turn a once-peaceful commute home into an suburban nightmare. The rape of the land and approval of water use in a time of severe drought will mean less for the fisheries and wildlife, and farmers and ranchers who keep us all going. Why the need to fill up the land with adult amusement parks?


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