Suwanee officials OK annexation, rezoning for mega-church location

SUWANEE - Suwanee Mayor Nick Masino and city council members voted Tuesday night to annex and rezone 12.65 acres at the request of Byungho Kim, pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church. The parcel of land is located on Smithtown Road between White Sands Way and Suwanee Creek Court.

The City Council has been considering this matter for several months in the face of opposition voiced by area residents. According to these residents, a 50,000-square-foot church with a 1500-seat sanctuary, a smaller 500-seat sanctuary and a multi-purpose building is much too large to be located on a secondary two-lane road.

Kim and his staff presented the findings of an independent traffic study to Masino and every council member Tuesday before the council meeting. The study concluded that whatever impact the church traffic has on Smithtown Road could be alleviated with a few provisions.

Tom McConnell, a Suwanee resident who led the opposition to locating a mega-church on Smithtown Road, asked city officials to table the matter for another month so that city staff could review the findings of the traffic study presented Tuesday. McConnell stated that he and other neighbors did not have a problem with Kim or Evergreen Presbyterian Church, which is currently located on Main Street in Suwanee. The group's opposition is based on the impact that the church will have on area property values and traffic.

By a vote of 4-1, with Councilwoman Jeanne Rispin casting the only "no" vote, the annexation and rezoning for church construction was approved. Councilman Daniel Foster stipulated that the parking lot is to hold no more than 350 impervious parking spaces, with the possible addition of more pervious parking area if needed.

McConnell's group will likely pursue legal action against the city in light of Tuesday night's decision.

Rezoning denied

Global Brokers, Inc., petitioned the mayor and council Tuesday to rezone 3.56 acres at the intersection of Satellite Boulevard and Martin Road from Light Industrial to Commercial. The property owner planned to locate a retail/restaurant building on the property, keeping the existing structure and modifying it to accommodate businesses and an upscale restaurant.

Citing concerns about possible vacancies in the proposed development and the desire to maintain a light industrial area, city staff recommended denial of the rezoning. Council members voted unanimously to deny the rezoning.

Police badges presented to mayor, council members

Suwanee police chief Mike Jones presented Masino and each council member with framed police badges Tuesday night, exact replicas of the new badges worn by city police officers.

The old police badges were retired during a May 6 ceremony, according to Jones. The new badge, designed by committee, have a lamppost, a building representing the future location of the police department and an inscription on the back that reads, "professional, ethical and knowledgeable."

"The badge is an honor and a symbol," said Jones.

Mural artists honored

Masino presented a framed proclamation Tuesday night to mural artist Sonny Franks, declaring May 23, 2007, "Sonny Franks Day." Franks coordinated an effort between more than 140 artists from around the world to paint the mural on the back of the stage in Town Center Park.

The mural depicts 40 members of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.