Lilburn approves athletic complex

LILBURN - Providence Christian Academy will be granted a controversial special use permit request to build an athletic complex on 11.5 acres by action of the Lilburn City Council on Monday night.

The vote was 3-0 with one abstention for the new facility to be located at 4525 Wynne Russell Drive near the private school

The permit calls for demolition of the Pilgrim Presbyterian Church on site, and construction of football, softball, and soccer fields, tennis courts, and track facilities for the Academy to use for its sports programs, which at present have to be played off campus.

Several conditions were written into the ordinance which allowed construction to be approved, including:

· No games will be played after 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and no games after 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and no games at all on Sunday.

· Emergency vehicles must have access to athletic fields.

· There will be no public entrance on West Johns St .

· The PA system will be subject to city ordinances.

· A 40-foot wide buffer must be built around the property for screening purposes.

· Facilities will be used by Academy teams only and will not be rented out.

· Crosswalks to the campus will be constructed, and permanent restrooms built for the stadium patrons.

· There will be no parking on Wynne Russell Drive and other streets.

· A 6-foot chain-link fence will be constructed around the property.

· Signage stating operating hours must be posted.

Passage of the permit came following comments both pro and con from the audience.

Many residents against the proposal have listed these objections to the ordinance: lights from the fields, public address systems blaring late at night, and traffic and related noise.

In a recent council meeting, it was noted that the student athletes have nowhere to play, and the school has to rent outside facilities.

Academy headmaster Jim Vaught said the new facility would be an attractive and healthy addition to the school and the city, adding that there will be one parking space to every three seating spaces on the site. He also said the proposal is in compliance with all city codes.

"I think Providence is an anchor to Lilburn," said business and property owner Debbie Battista. "It will impact Lilburn in a positive way."

Resident Wayne Stineman said schools, by nature, are built in residential areas. "If you don't allow schools to expand, you're going to hurt the school longterm," he said.

Speaking against the proposal, resident Joan Carner said the Council should have thought more about possible drainage problems. "The runoff from the rain was horrible down there today," she said.

"I don't know has much we're subsidizing the school by devaluation of our property," said area resident Jim Mallory.

Jean Forrester, a member of Pilgrimage Presbyterian Church, said, "I just don't see tearing down a one-and-a-half-million-dollar church, and putting up outhouses and concession stands."