FAQ's: 483 Lyons Road Manse

Construction Project

June 6, 2017


Why do this project?

Due to its age and condition, the existing 483 Lyons Road home has long been due for extensive renovation. It is also too small to meet the needs of the Janssen family and unlikely to meet the needs of a future pastor’s family. The high cost of renovation plus expansion and zoning issues led the Trustees to recommend to the Congregation that a tear down and rebuild would be the most cost effective and feasible solution. The Congregation, at a meeting in 2014, adopted the Trustees’ recommendation.

Why did it take so long to get started?

LCPC had some personnel changes and there were several modifications that had to be made to the site plan prior to its submission (location of wetlands, location of trees, coverage recalculations, and removal of 511 Lyons Road property) that delayed the project for awhile. Subsequently, the Trustees, working with our attorney, expended the time and effort necessary in order to maximize the chances that we could get approval from Bernards Township and avoid our experience with previous plans to rebuild the manse at 58 Church Street.

Why did the cost increase?

The current house design is similar to the one proposed in 2014 in terms of size and layout. The prices of labor and materials have increased significantly over the past three years as the housing industry revived. The joint Trustee, Finance, Session New Manse Team is considering changes to the design that will lower the cost. Our objective is to construct a cost-effective, high quality, and low maintenance home that will be provide suitable housing for many years.

What is the source of the funds for the project?

In 2006, LCPC established a building fund and solicited donations in anticipation of building a new sanctuary. That plan proved not to be feasible. The funds that were contributed—after returning contributions to those requesting their return and honoring requests to dedicate some to mission projects—($1,529,620 as of 5/16/17) are in a dedicated fund that may be used only for capital expenditures and may not be used for operating expenses, as we promised those who left their contributions in the building fund. Using a portion of this fund for construction will not have any effect on current income or operating expenses. 

Why is this project a good idea during a time of financial restraint?

The building fund that would be used for this project cannot be used for operating expenses so there is no impact on LCPC’s current budget. The construction of a new manse on LCPC church property is a good long-term investment that will provide value for many years to come. Building on our own property is 40%-50% less costly than purchasing a comparable home in the community. The presence of a modern, attractive manse in proximity to the church is a valuable asset that, in addition to providing for the immediate needs of the Janssen family, could be helpful in attracting future pastors. A new low maintenance, energy efficient, handicapped adaptable home will be more economical and better serve the needs of the church than would either renovating the existing structure or purchasing an existing home in the community. Finally, the Township approval required several zoning variances. We have a two-year window to start construction. If we delay until our approval expires, there is no guarantee that a future board would grant those variances.

Who will move into the new manse?

The Janssen family will move into the new manse. The rest of the pastors and staff will continue with their existing living arrangement.

Where will the Janssen’s live during construction?

The new home is set further back from the street so it will be built behind the existing home.  Preliminary plans are for the Janssen family to remain in the house during construction, move into the new home, and then tear down the old home. 

What is the anticipated schedule?

The anticipated construction time will be between eight to ten months from the issuance of building permits.

Who will be the general contractor?

Ken Szabo, a member of our congregation, is a long-term experienced builder. He has donated his services to manage the project, resulting in substantial savings.

What is the Status of the Project as of June 25, 2017?

As of 5/18/17 we have approval from the zoning board, an architect is preparing the plans, and Ken Szabo has started detailed planning. Next steps are for the Manse committee to consider changes that Ken and the architect have identified which would help lower cost.  Ken estimates we should be able to apply for construction permits in early July.

Will this project affect any of the other structures on the church such as the cottage or storage sheds?

No, this project is completely independent.