The Gilbert Town Council will allow a Roman Catholic Church to construct a temporary worship facility on its property, overturning a decision made earlier this month by the design review board.
St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Gilbert plans to use a tent-like structure until funds can be raised to build permanent facilities.
Gilbert’s second Roman Catholic parish opened in September, but has been celebrating weekend Masses at Williams Community School gymnasium on the Arizona State University East campus in Mesa. The council’s unanimous vote Tuesday paves the way for Masses to move to the church’s 20-acre site on Williams Field Road between Greenfield and Higley roads, an eighth-mile east of the future San Tan Freeway stretch of Loop 202.
Parishioner Bill Montgomery said this will help St. Mary Magdalene develop a sense of community. The temporary church structure will seat 600 people.
Church pastoral minister Richard Schonhoff said it will take three to six months to install and fund-raising will begin to build a permanent sanctuary, a school, a small chapel, offices and unlighted ball fields, Schonhoff said.
A development agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix on July 8 said the temporary structure could be used for up to five years.
Two days later, the design review board denied the plan because it did not meet Gilbert’s design guidelines. On July 14, the Phoenix diocese appealed.
St. Mary Magdalene has 700 registered families, Schonhoff said. Gilbert’s other Catholic parish, St. Anne Catholic Community, 440 E. Elliot Road, has 7,500 registered families.