The Columbia County Planning Commission approved a rezoning Thursday to add acreage and another entrance to a church planned near Grovetown.
New Life Christian Center sought the rezoning of 11.6 acres at the intersection of Mill Branch and Lewiston roads from single-family residential to special district, bringing the total campus to nearly 31 acres.
In 1995, the church received approval for 13.3 acres, and an additional 6 acres were later added.
Church leaders felt they needed to meet the needs of their growing congregation by building a larger facility on the property fronting Lewiston Road. The church currently meets on Wrightsboro Road in Augusta.
Planned in the first phase is a 9,000-square-foot assembly area, 54,000 square feet for classroom and administration space, and a playground.
The second phase, which has to come back before the planning commission for approval, would consist of a 40,000-square-foot sanctuary building, an amphitheater and lighted athletic fields.
A handful of residents living or owning property near the 31 acres raised concerns about traffic and a second entrance proposed on Mill Branch Road.
“There’s a lot of activity,” said Gerald Hargrove, who lives on the nearby Meadowlark Lane. “We’ve had a number of wrecks.”
New Life Senior Pastor Bryan Matthews told planning commissioners that the main entrance would be on Lewiston Road. The Mill Branch Road entrance, he said, would be used for emergency access.
As for traffic, Matthews said that a sheriff’s deputy would direct traffic during service times and a left-turn lane is required.
The church holds four Sunday services and Wednesday night Bible studies. Daycare and pre-kindergarten classes also are held there.
The first phase is expected to conclude by December.
Also given approval at the meeting were preliminary plats for five lots off Owens Road and the third phase of Hidden Creek, which consists of 14 single-family lots and 47 townhome lots off Baker Place Road.