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Kingsland Zoning and Planning Commission strike down church’s request to obtain city street

Planning commission tells Kingsland church no on Chester Street closing.

Kingsland’s City Planning and Zoning commission motions to disapprove First Baptist Church of Kingsland’s request for abandonment of Chester street right-of-way on Monday.

Senior Pastor, Brian Parker, put forth the request for the city of Kingsland to close Chester street and sell the property to the church.

Parker expertly laid out the church’s “two-phase” building plan that would include a new storage building, classrooms, educational building with a gymnasium, and new worship center. The buildings would all be connected to the chapel with the construction of an atrium.

The proposed atrium seemed to be the reasoning behind wanting to obtain Chester street, the 360-foot property, from the city.

Parker continued the presentation by stating the church would receive an estimated 6-8,000 visitors annually and that the buildings could be used for disaster relief in the event of an emergency.

The proposed plan would be a six-million-dollar investment to the community, and the pastor stated, “wanting to be a lasting legacy.”

Once the floor was open to comments from the community, both sides came out in droves to have their voices heard on the topic at hand.

After roughly twenty members of the community gave their opinion about the church obtaining the street, the numbers for and against the proposal were pretty much even. The comments were mainly a debate about if this is setting precedence or not and issues with parking with First Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church.

At one point the debate between two church members required Commissioner Fryth Morris to interject saying, “You’re both supposed to be Christians,” and that they needed to work out their differences over the parking issue.

The planning and zoning commission began requesting factual numbers from the church that claimed to have already done studies. They requested an independent study be done on traffic flow and suggested that Parker host a presentation of the project open to the community for questions.

Commissioner, Farran Fullilove, got a rough estimate that 1,500 people use the road every week, which proves the road does get a fair amount of usage by the people of Kingsland.
In the end, the city attorney, Jim Coppage, was the deciding factor in the debate. Coppage said, “Precedence is an issue here.”

The city attorney continued by suggesting that as long as the property is being utilized the city cannot abandon the property and that from a legal standpoint he was not comfortable with the abandonment of Chester street.

After these statements, the city zoning and planning commission voted against the church’s request for obtaining the property. The motion to disapprove came 4-2.

Pastor Parker told the commission that an alternative for the church would be relocating to a different area that could better suit their needs but would prefer to keep the church downtown.

Reporter for All On Georgia while finishing his bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Environmental Studies. Jacob moved to St. Marys seven years ago from Worcester, MA. He worked for the National Park Service at Cumberland Island and for the Department of Defense on Kings Bay Submarine Base.

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