The Cornelius Town Board on Monday approved approved a rezoning request that allows Life Fellowship Church, a large non-denominational congregation that currently meets in Davidson, to build a 17-acre worship campus off I-77 Exit 28 in Cornelius.
The church has a contract to buy the land on the I-77 Service Road, west of the interstate and south of Catawba Avenue, for $1.4 million, and construction on a first phase of the campus could begin in 2012. The estimated cost for Phase 1 is $6.1 million, which includes the land cost and construction of a 24,000-square foot, 600-seat worship center with a large stage and a “black box” worship area for children.
Life Fellowship Church was founded in 2004 at the Havana Social Club in Cornelius and currently meets in the Community School of Davidson building on Griffith Street. Since its founding, the church has grown from about 140 regular worshippers to more than 700, and Lead Pastor Bobby Conway expects those numbers to increase at the new, permanent location.
The town originally approved plans for a business campus on the property, owned by the Blakely family, but a few years ago the town “down-zoned” the property for rural preservation so that the owners would not need to pay taxes on a business property that was not being used. The rezoning application called for a return to the original business campus zoning.
Plans for the site include construction of as many as four phases, including classrooms and a chapel, over the next 17 years, though exact plans and final project cost will depend on the church’s success in its new location, Pastor Conway said. And because of its design, the church campus could one day be converted to a business campus relatively easily, architect Dave Benham told board members.
Before presenting the church’s request to the Planning Board last month, planning staff and church leaders reviewed architecture plans and traffic impact studies (which showed no significant impact), and held a community meeting Nov. 21 at Town Hall to share plans and to hear comments and concerns from citizens. At that meeting, some residents of Magnolia Estates, the neighborhood adjacent to part of the church parcel, expressed concerns about possible noise from the planned amphitheater. Town planners then worked with church planners to tweak plans before presenting them to the board, and church planners voluntarily removed the amphitheater. They also agreed to 15 conditions the Planning Board required in order to recommend the plan to the town board.
During Monday’s hearing, no one spoke in opposition to the plans.
“Thank you for investing in our community and I look forward to seeing it built,” commissioner Dave Gilroy said.
Mayor Pro Tem Lynette Rinker echoed his sentiments, saying the church is “a wonderful addition to the fabric of our community.”
Also Monday, the board:
- Voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance that would ban tobacco use in Cornelius parks and parks buildings, effective March 1. Read the full story here.
- Voted unanimously to keep open the town’s 911 call center. Read the full story here.
- Recognized Margaret Ahern and Randolph Lewis for their service on the Histric Preservation Commission, and recognized Susan Medlin for her work on the Land Development Code Advisory Board.
- Voted to reappoint David Stroud and to appoint Kathryn McClelland and Roy Suttles to the Historic Preservation Commission.
- Voted to change the spelling of Manhatten Parkway to Manhattan Parkway.
- Heard a request from Commissioner Dave Gilroy to consider switching to 3-year terms.