Man files suit questioning Korean church approval

LAWRENCEVILLE - A man who complained that a Suwanee church approved on his street is too large for the area has filed suit against the city for passing it.

Tom McConnell and James and Joanne Collins filed suit in the Gwinnett County Superior Court on Thursday, claiming the Evergreen Presbyterian Church's request to annex more than 12 acres into the city to build a 50,000-square-foot church should not have been approved last month.

In the suit and in public meetings before the rezoning was approved, McConnell said his street, Smithtown Road, is not big enough to handle the cars that would be produced by a church with a sanctuary designed to seat 1,500 people. The suit claims Smithtown is designated a local road, while churches can only be approved on land that abuts an arterial road, collector street or state highway.

The suit also alleges that the city benefited from the rezoning by getting access to the church's current Suwanee location, which is adjacent to property the city already owns.

McConnell said ideally, the city would overturn the church's approval.

"It's the enormity and the size of the church," he said. "We believe the city of Suwanee failed to adhere to zoning resolutions."

Suwanee Mayor Nick Masino said the city had received a copy of the lawsuit Friday and the city's attorney was reviewing it. The city attorney, Gregory Jay, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The church was approved by a 4-1 vote in May after being tabled in April. Pastor Byungho Kim said previously that the church was beginning to outgrow its space, and that he wanted to stay in Suwanee, where 90 percent of his congregants live.