Elizabethtown approves churches in Central Business District

By: By Brendaly Vega - Bladen Journal intern

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Elizabethtown board discussed the possibility Monday of doing a text amendment to allow churches, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship as a special use in the Central Business District.

Board members had three options: They could make a motion to approve as presented; make a motion to impose additional conditions as part of the permit approval process; or make a motion to deny the permit and state the reason for denial.

If the board approved of the motion, then there are a couple of problems that could occur from the decision. The first problem is if churches can be built in the Central Business District, then it would be hard for them to be disapproved during the application process. If a church were to not function properly in this district, then it would be hard to prove why; there would be no factual evidence.

The board discussed including certain parameters for a church in order for it to be built in this district. One parameter included making parking a responsibility of the church. Parking is a concern in this district and a place of worship could interfere with the local business because the Central Business District is small. According to Councilman Ricky Leinwand, there are plenty of places in town a church could go. The board leaned toward making a motion to impose additional conditions as part of the permit approval process or making a motion to deny the permit.

“My concern is that the Central Business District is about three blocks,” said Leinwand. “We’re not against churches — they can build in 98 percent of this town, but this area is commercialized. That’s why it’s called the Central Business District. We have a vibrant downtown and a good tax base. You can go one block over and I’d welcome a church there.”

In the end, Leinwand cast the sole dissenting vote, and the board approved a text amendment that would allow places of worship by special use permit. The Potter’s House petitioners will appear before the board at a later date to apply for a special use permit under the new language.

The board also:

• Approved the resolution of recognition for Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy’s John L. Foye drill team.

• Approved the request to award the bid to purchase the grapple truck with side arm loader to public works equipment and supply Inc. in the amount of $140,479.

• Approved the proposal to purchase a factory rebuilt motor for the 2005 GMC Leith truck and transfer the 1994 tanker truck to public services to be used as a tanker/pumper truck for the fire department.

Brendaly Vega can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.





By Brendaly Vega

Bladen Journal intern