Norcross tables decision on church

NORCROSS -- Generations Church wants to use space in Norcross' historic downtown district as a meeting place for their congregation of just under 200 people.

But Skin Alley, as the area is called, is home to retail shops and restaurants, and the owners of those businesses opposed the idea Tuesday at a city council meeting.

Edna Berkshire, owner of Taste of Britain in Norcross, said Tuesday that "Skin Alley is the lifeline for my warehouse and my business ... (a church) will not benefit the downtown area."

Other owners said parking spaces are at a premium in the historic downtown area, and adding more cars to the area would be harmful to retail businesses and restaurants.

Dr. John Rowell, lead pastor of Generations Church, said that using the space in downtown Norcross would be convenient, since the church's offices are adjacent to the space he wants to use for the sanctuary.

Rowell also said that he investigated using the city's Cultural Arts and Community Center as a meeting place on Sunday mornings, but Director of the center, Rip Robertson, said that city policy does not allow for use of the facility on Sunday mornings by a church.

Mayor Bucky Johnson and several council members said they are not aware of such a policy at the Center, but they may not be familiar with each policy in the manual.

In order to consider all the facts that may affect the decision, Johnson suggested that the matter be tabled until the July 19 policy session.

Millage rate raised

At city manager Rudolph Smith's recommendation, council members voted Tuesday to raise the city's 2010 millage rate to 6.424 from the 2009 rate of 6.104. A decision regarding changing the city's water and sewer rates was tabled until July 19.