Mebane’s city council has unanimously approved a rezoning request that will allow a church in Durham to build a sanctuary and classroom space in Mebane.
The vote came despite concerns from three Mebane residents about traffic around the fast-growing area near the planned location at the corner of Mebane Oaks and Old Hillsborough roads.
Nancy Bouchard raised concerns about the specific location proposed by the church, saying it was not the right place because it would contribute to traffic problems in the area. “I don’t want [Mebane] to be another Durham, another Cary, or another Fuquay-Varina,” she said.
Bouchard also said the city did not have adequate infrastructure to be able to support the new church, and that church construction should wait until city infrastructure caught up.
Bouchard also used her turn at the microphone to criticize an unrelated industrial development taking place along nearby West Ten Road on the edge of Mebane and the impact its traffic would also have on the area.
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But when Bouchard started talking about “road rage,” mayor pro tem Tim Bradley, presiding in the absence of mayor Ed Hooks, tried to get her back on the rezoning topic then pending before the council.
Hilary Latimer worried that cars entering the church parking lot’s entrance along Mebane Oaks Road would end up backing up along the road in front of the city’s fire station no. 3, which is beside the proposed church site.
Latimer suggested that “homes would burn” because fire trucks wouldn’t be able to get out of the station to respond to fires because of traffic blocking their exit.
But church officials said they did not anticipate a problem with so-called “stacking” in front of the fire station. And mayor pro tem Tim Bradley, himself a volunteer assistant fire chief for the department, added that cars would inevitably get out of the way of a 36,000 pound fire truck if it needed to get out of the station quickly to respond to a fire emergency.
In addition to the Mebane Oaks Road entrance, there will be a second entrance along Old Hillsborough Road, it was noted.
The city’s planning board previously concluded that the primary time for use would be Sunday mornings, when traffic along the busy roadway would not be as much of a factor as at other times.
The issue arose about the timing of the Department of Transportation’s planned improvements at the intersection of Old Hillsborough Road and Mebane Oaks Road. City manager Chris Rollins reported that the latest estimates he had heard from DOT officials for providing a signal at the intersection, rather than the current four-way stop, was fall or winter.
Other concerns were raised about a second DOT project along Mebane Oaks Road, widening the overpass over I-85/40. City officials were less certain about the current DOT projections on that time frame, except to speculate that it would be at least one year off.
Meanwhile, church officials said they expected to break ground as early as this August, with a construction period of 18 months, perhaps being completed by January 2024.
Members ultimately voted 5-0 in favor of Katie Burkholder’s motion to approve the requested rezoning to allow church construction. Councilman Jonathan White was allowed by his colleagues to participate in the deliberations on the church rezoning, concluding that he had no conflict of interest; he had acknowledged at the outset of the agenda item that he was “a relatively new member of the Summit Church.”
The Mebane campus of the Summit Church has been meeting for almost seven years on Sunday mornings, most recently at Hawfields Middle School off NC 119.
Pastor Jeremy Pollard told The Alamance News after the planning board’s unanimous recommendation in favor of the church rezoning that attendance there is now around 500 each week.
The Summit Church is a large church with satellite locations, referred to as “campuses.” The so-called Alamance Campus, which meets in Mebane, is one of 12 within commuting distance of the home church in Durham, according to the church.
An undeveloped, heavily forested strip adjoining the Longmeadow residential subdivision, at the back of the church’s property, will remain undisturbed.
There will be a five-foot sidewalk along Mebane Oaks Road and a 10-foot-wide public multi-use path along the frontage of Old Hillsborough Road.
See earlier coverage of the planning board’s June consideration of the church’s rezoning request: https://alamancenews.com/planning-board-oks-rezoning-for-summit-church-site-in-mebane/
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