Commisioners to reconsider conditional use request for Hodges Mine Road property

County planning commission tables BCR Ministries vote to 2019

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By a 5-1 margin, the Bartow County Planning Commission moved to postpone a vote on a conditional use application for a place of worship on about 30 acres of land along Hodges Mine Road until next year.

C. Boyd Morris III was the lone dissenter, as the other five members of the commission recommended tabling the request from BCR Ministries, Inc. until February.

Per a conditional use permit document, Bear Creek Ranch representative Lucas Mather seeks to construct a church/retreat center with space for several classrooms, along with a barn and a ranch-style parsonage with a finished basement, on three lots in Taylorsville currently zoned as A1 agriculture. 

"What we want to do is basically, there are four structures that we want to build on the property," Mather said at Monday evening's public hearing. "The church will hold, the one we want to build, will hold about 50 people." 

The ministry specializes in "deliverance, advanced wholeness and marriage retreats." Mather said the 501(c)(3) organization brings in about $250,000-$300,000 a year in donations and has an ongoing capital campaign to finance the proposed Taylorsville development.

The facility, he said, would not have accommodations for overnight guests. "We have found that there are hotels within 15 minutes, so anybody that would want to stay over or something like that, we would direct them down towards them," he said.

Realtor Jason Wilson represented the ministry in acquiring the land. Preliminary groundwork, he said, is already underway at the site. 

"There's some mud on the road that we're having to tend to from a backhoe digging around in that area, trying to remove tree stumps, because this lot has never been touched," he said. "Once we were approved for this, the [county government] could get us a permit for the correct type of driveway, which would be going in to eliminate the mud issue — the challenge we had in getting the driveway upfront is they said until we get it rezoned, you'd have to put in a residential driveway. You guys approve it for an [A1] worship use, we have to tear it out and do a commercial driveway."

Several neighbors took to the podium to voice their concerns about the proposed development. One speaker aired complaints about increased traffic along the roadway and another voiced grievances about soil erosion control measures at the site.

"I know some of the concerns from some of the neighbors that had contacted the ministry was about lots of lights and cars and things of that nature," Wilson said. "It's a fairly small operation, so it would not be a big parking lot with a lot of street lights."

Citing concerns about construction cost estimates and conceptual plans, Bartow County Planning Commission Chairman Bill Hix recommended BCR Ministries spend the next few months developing "a more specific site plan overlaid on a [topographical] map" of the proposed development area.

The planning commission is tentatively scheduled to hear a second conditional use permit application request from the organization on Feb. 4.