Checklist: Choosing the Right Property Location

Staff Writer,

When you select a building site, consider some of the following items. Then use the checklist provided to evaluate the feasibility of each option you uncover.

1. Accessibility of Site – If access roads and utilities are not already available to the site, the church will be responsible for paying for and providing roads and facilities. This can be costly. So if possible, choose a site with existing utilities and other services. Nevertheless, if you can not find a site with existing utilities, find an area in the community under the process of being developed. Sometimes the local utilities will share the costs of putting in the lines and pipes since you are helping the advancement of community development. Check this option out as one possible solution.

2. Traffic Flow – You will need to consider whether or not the site provides easy access for the workers and equipment during construction; and easy access after construction for the church members and visitors. If you are planning a renovation or the construction of new buildings on the same site, you must consider traffic flow for construction workers, on site storage and the congregations. Although there is not likely to be construction on Sunday’s, equipment and materials will need to be stored on site. Also, if the church is utilized during the weekdays, there may be traffic flow problems that need to be ironed out ahead of time. The easiest solution is to make sure that you site is large enough to accommodate your needs.

3. Location – Is the site in a location that serves the needs of the surrounding communities? How far will current attendees travel to get to this new site? Will People be able to access the new facility using public transit? This is key because many elderly and young college students rely on the public systems for mobility. Is your new site one that will allow your church to stay involved with the community and not alienate you from its residents? Will the front of the church be visible to people passing through the area?

4. Versatility of Site – Will zoning ordinances permit you to use the site for recreational facilities such as a playground, baseball/softball diamond, or volleyball court? Will local zoning and ordinances allow for cookouts, picnics, or bonfires on the church premises? Are there limitations which would prevent access during the weekday or evenings? 

5. Future Building Plans – Will the site provide any room for future expansion of your building? Can additional recreational or educational facilities be accommodated at a later date? 

6. Possible Zoning Conflicts for the Future – Who owns the surrounding land? Can the surrounding land be used for future development by the church or other groups? Who is zoned by the community to build around your church; business, schools, housing, etc.? If it is business, what kinds of businesses can build around your church? 

7. Other important Legal Issues. 

8. Environmental Issues

9. Possible Time Constraints in Purchasing the Land – Plan carefully and consider the fact that it may take as long as a year to eighteen months to close the deal on the land purchase. 

10. Church Activity Center – The building site can be the hub of church activity and entertainment if chosen properly. Consider whether there will be room available for your children to play safely away from traffic and for picnics, games, and other miscellaneous church events. 

11. Community Activity Center – It is feasible in some areas to rent your new church facility to community groups that have no place to meet. This could be a valuable source of revenue if planned out properly. Consider the needs of your community and plan your new site and facility to meet those needs. 

12. Multiple Church Activity Center – Also consider the possibility of sharing space with other congregations. The building is rarely used seven days a week, and other churches may have a need for space at times in which you have no planned occupancy. 

13. Parking Facilities – (A) Make certain that you site is large enough to sustain the projected attendance for the new facility (see Projecting Your Church’s Needs starting on page 83). (B) Another consideration is parking for the surrounding community. If there are local businesses that need parking space during the weekday, it may be feasible to rent your parking lot to them for their employees to use. This solves their need for parking space and again provides the church with extra revenue at no cost to your church. However, always check for the legal and zoning limitations any time you consider renting space and make sure the obligations that come with it are acceptable to your congregation.

Please consider each of these items carefully when selecting your site. An intelligently selected site will greatly improve your satisfaction with the final church facility. Photocopy the following checklist and make a copy for each site you are considering. Keep the results in your Journal for later review. Also, please make sure to add your own more specific goals to the general goals already listed. 
For property located at_____________________________________________________

Contact information: 
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1. Accessibility of site; 
– Site access via existing roadways. 
– Access to existing utilities.

2. Traffic Flow; 
– Easy access for construction materials and equipment. 
– Good traffic flow for simultaneous access of construction and congregation. 
– Adequate on site storage space for materials.

3. Location; 
– Visible to surrounding community. 
– Accessible to community and congregation. 
– Close to existing public transportation routes.

4. Versatility of Site; 
– Zoned for recreational facilities. 
– Zoned for cookouts and picnics. 
– Unlimited day and evening access seven days a week. 
5. Future Building Plans; 
– Room for future expansion of building. 
– Room for expansion of recreational facilities. 
– Soil type is adequate for construction. (Soils Test)

6. Possible Zoning Conflicts for the Future; 
– Surrounding land owned by “good” neighbors. 
– Building will have a positive impact on surrounding environment. If local law requires it, you may need to have an environmental impact study performed.
– Make sure the site is without excessive legal problems such as restrictive covenants or easements; which means the state has the right to take some of your property at a later date if they want it. 
– City has no plans for using land for future development of roadways.

7. Other important Legal Issues.

8. Environmental Issues
– Building will not create any wetlands violations or conflicts. 
– Make sure and ASK that all unknown or latent conditions be disclosed. 
– Insist disclosures of any mitigating circumstances survive the recording of the deed. 
– Determine if there were facilities located on the property that may have caused soil contamination. Who is required to clean up the mess? You, the city, the previous owner? 
– Water table is low enough to prevent any interference from building foundation.

9. Possible Time Constraints in Purchasing the Land; 
– Land can be purchased in acceptable time frame.

10. Church Activity Center; 
– Safe playing areas for children away from roads.
– Congregation feels safe in area.

11. Community Activity Center 
– Neighbors who will accept the noise and activity without complaint. 
– Neighbors who will look forward to participating in church activities. 
– Existing community groups will help and encourage the project. 
– New building will fit in with architecture of community.

12. Multiple Church Activity Center; 
– Other local churches appreciate the new facility. 
– Other small churches may be willing to rent space during unused hours.

13. Parking facilities; 
– Site is properly zoned for parking. 
– Site can hold projected needs for parking capacity. 
– Local businesses interested in using the parking facilities during unused hours.

14. Other POSITIVE site characteristics;

15. Other NEGATIVE site characteristics;