A Martinez church is planning to move to Evans.
On Thursday night at the Columbia County Planning Commission meeting, Jim Joiner, pastor of Westside Christian Church, asked for a rezoning of 9.99 acres of land on Halali Farm Road from single family residential to special district.
"We've seen growth out there since last year," he told commissioners.
Joiner said the first building will be 14,000 square feet and will include a sanctuary, classrooms and a picnic area. He said he hopes to add education and athletic buildings shortly after the first building is complete.
"We want the buildings to be aesthetically pleasing to the community," he said. "Our desire is to be good neighbors."
Some Evans residents who live along Halali Farm Road shared opposing views, though, expressing concerns about traffic, lighting and the noise level.
"I don't have anything against the church, but this is a bad situation," said Scott Badglen, of Evans, adding that several wrecks have occurred along the road. He said approving the request would result in more traffic problems. "We don't need no church. There's nothing on that street but residential. I can't express how much I'm against it."
Craig Palmer, of Evans, agreed.
"It's very peaceful and serene at night," he said, stressing that church activities would cause light and noise volume to increase. "I couldn't think of a worse place for a church to be. I don't see the benefit."
Loren Perry, the owner of the property, said he's ready to sell the land, despite what some residents might think.
"We have bent over backwards, trying to please the residents of the community," he said. "We're talking about a church. This is a wonderful use of the property. I understand the concerns these people have, but they are unfounded."
In the end, the request was approved by a 3-to-1 vote. Vice Chairman Tom Sprague and Commissioners Deanne Hall and Dean Thompson voted for the request while Commissioner Tony Atkins voted against it. Chairman Ron Thigpen was absent from the meeting.
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