CYPRESS, CA-City officials are embroiled in a controversy of a higher order regarding the designated Los Alamitos Race Track and Golf Course redevelopment area at the corner of Walker Street and Katella Avenue.

According to published reports, the 4,000-member Cottonwood Christian Center has purchased land in the redevelopment area for the construction of a new worship center, youth center, bookstore, coffee shop, bookstore, conference rooms and a licensed pre-school. Members of the church, led by Pastor Bayless Conley, held a prayer gathering on the 18-acre site Sunday, hoping to convince the City Council to allow them to build.

However, Cypress mayor Anna Piercy says she told church members when they purchased the property that there would be no guarantee they would be granted a building permit.

As reported by on November 3, the City Council adopted an urgency ordinance on October 30 placing a 45-day moratorium freezing all development around the redevelopment area to give city staff time to study a proposed change in the land use of the property, from professional office buildings to retail space and a restaurant row. The proposed development, called Town Center, and would be similar to such developments as The Block, the Irvine Marketplace and the Aliso Viejo Town Center. Such a change would require an amendment to the city’s Specific Plan and also would require putting the proposed amendment to a vote of the citizenry as mandated under Measure D, which was passed in 1987.

Church officials are contending that building a church on the site would bring people from outside the city to eat at local restaurants and would help to reduce crime and get homeless people off of city streets.

City officials told that going through the entire specific plan amendment process could take anywhere from six months to a year, and the moratorium could be extended for an additional 10 months if necessary.

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