After years of pushback from nearby residents on the Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene’s rezoning proposal to build a new sports facility, the church is now pivoting, instead proposing a new sanctuary to accommodate its growing congregation.

The church’s developer, Paradigm Land Design LLC wrote a letter to the town last month regarding the non-rezoning proposal.

“With so many families and kids becoming a part of the OVCN church family, we’re out of space,” said the church’s executive pastor, Chris Collins.

On any given Sunday, the OVCN sees upwards of 800 people attending its service. With a sanctuary equipped for only 500 people, many in the congregation find themselves using overflow seating, something Collins says they want to change after an explosion in growth since 2020.

“Doing nothing is not an option. We feel like as God continues to bring people from our community to our church family,” he said. “We’ve got to respond; we’ve got to provide space and places for them.”

He says the church sees around 3,000 people between its physical and online campuses.

The church originally proposed rezoning to allow for a new sports complex. That proposal resulted in a nearly four-year battle with neighbors near the church who opposed the project, citing increased traffic, noise, and light pollution.

The new sanctuary would be built on land already owned by the church between its current sanctuary and CDO High School.

One neighbor told KGUN 9 over the phone that she still opposes the latest proposition.

“I am opposed to them expanding more because they have outgrown their area for the neighborhood and the roads,” said Elizabeth Robb.

She additionally voiced concern over the original rezoning application not being withdrawn according to the Oro Valley projects website.

Another neighbor living near the church told KGUN 9 any opposition this time won’t matter, as the current site for the new sanctuary is already zoned for church use.

Collins expressed that he doesn’t “know that we’ll be able to make everybody happy.”

The church would still need approval of additional building height for the new sanctuary, which would be similar to the neighboring auditorium at CDO High School, while a traffic and noise study will be conducted as part of the process.

Collins is now hopeful that by using existing land to continue its existing operations, it at least alleviates some concerns from residents.

“We’re hopeful that without rezoning, the people who have been opposed to that might at least be able to say, ‘Hey, even if we don’t love it, we at least appreciate the fact that won’t be a part of the project anymore.'”

Collins added that he hopes to have a private meeting with immediate neighbors before moving on to the next phase.