Permit approved for one church, decision postponed on second

Published 11:00 am Friday, March 8, 2024

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Amidst a trio of public hearings on Tuesday night, the Troup County Board of Commissioners approved a special use permit for a new church on Liberty Hill Road but postponed a decision for a similar permit for an open-air pavilion church.

The first special use permit request was made by Pastor Thomas Pulliam on behalf of Heaven’s Harvest Ministries to build a second new church sanctuary use on a 2.71-acre

portion of an approximately 3.04-acre parcel on Liberty Hill Road zoned Lakeside Rural Residential (LRR).

The property currently has two buildings on the western side of Liberty Hill Rd that are currently used for the church. The new sanctuary would be on the eastern side of the road.

The Board of Zoning previously voted to approve the application with a 4-0 vote.

During a public hearing on the matter, Pastor Pulliam said their church was guided by God to move from Alpharetta to LaGrange after ministering here for years.

“Our whole church moved. Some have moved here. The whole church comes down regularly. Drives down. Yes, it’s an hour, an hour and a half or two-hour [drive] but we have those that drive from Augusta, other places, Columbus,” Pulliam said. “We’ve been growing since we’ve been here. We officially, fully the church moved out of Alpharetta down there the last week of October. Since then, God has been good to us,” he said.

The special use permit was approved unanimously by the commissioners with a 4-0 vote.

The second special use permit request to allow for an open-air pavilion/church drew more concerns.

The applicant Don Butler requested the permit to allow for an open-air pavilion on a currently vacant 33-acre property on Hamilton Road zoned Single Family Medium Density (SFMD).

In the application process, Butler indicated the site will have concession stands and bathrooms but it will not be an event center and they will not be holding concerts or have any sales of tickets.

Butler sent a letter to the county indicating that the pavilion’s sole purpose will be to provide shelter for Mountain Shadows Community Church while conducting outdoor church services. The site will not be used as a venue for weddings, community parties or rented out to the public for any other use, he said in the letter.

The zoning board recommended approving the permit with a 3-1 vote.

No one spoke in favor or against the special use permit during the public hearing. Butler was not at the hearing.

Commissioner Morris Jones raised concerns about the outdoor nature of the proposed pavilion and the potential for amplified music to carry into the surrounding residential properties.

“I have a problem with some of the concerns that the [zoning] board had asked them and we’ve got it right here in front of us and nobody’s here to answer for them,” Jones said.

Commission Chairman Patrick Crews indicated that the concerns are about the design of the structure, which likely wouldn’t come from a traditional enclosed church building, but it’s open so that could cause problems.

Commissioners Ellis Cadenhead and Lewis Davis indicated they would like to hear from Butler.

Ultimately, the commissions voted to delay the decision to a second reading so they could hear more from the applicant.