Tuesday, August 21, 2012
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COVINGTON - The Church in the Now has successfully petitioned the Covington Planning Commission for a special use permit to locate in a vacant building on Harland Drive.
The petition will go before the Covington City Council at its 6:30 p.m. meeting Sept. 17.
Debye Swilley is the applicant, and signed the application as the chief financial officer and administrator of the church. Bishop Jim Swilley is listed as the senior pastor.
The property in question is a 33,688-square-foot building at 13183 Harland Drive that was previously used as an industrial warehouse and office space, according to the city's Planning and Zoning Department staff report. The property is zoned heavy industrial, and requires a special use permit in order to be used as a place of worship for public assembly.
Swilley said in her letter to the city Planning and Zoning Department that the church will enter into a three-year lease agreement with Lanners Development Inc. with plans to hold worship services there on Sundays and Wednesday evenings and on special occasions. The church will also maintain corporate offices at the site and use the building as a meeting spot for various ministry and fellowship groups, Swilley said. The church has a congregation of approximately 300.
Planning and zoning staff said there would be minimum impact on the surrounding properties. One of the conditions of the Planning Commission's approval is that the chuch get separate special use permits if it decides to establish other services at the site such as day care or a private school.
The church, once the largest in Rockdale County, went into foreclosure in 2011. The church property, buildings and 43 acres were put up for sale on the courthouse steps at a starting bid of $18.8 million. There were no takers, so the property reverted back to the mortgage holder, Evangelical Christian Credit Union.
Springfield Baptist Church has since acquired the property and is using the site for worship services as well as a private school.