One year after almost engaging in a legal dispute with the city of Buford, officials from 12Stone Church came away Monday with a different result.
At its November meeting Monday, the Buford City Commission approved a special use permit that will allow 12Stone to construct a new worship facility. The site is a 12.87-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Buford Highway and Thompson Mill Road.
In November 2014, Buford did not allow a similar permit that would have allowed 12Stone to operate in a former Kroger site on Buford Highway. At that time, 12Stone officials said that they were “disappointed” in the process and considered legal action since they had signed a lease for that facility the previous July. However, no legal action was taken.
“We found the right site,” 12Stone Chief Financial Officer Norwood Davis said Monday after the commissioners approved the permit. In August, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported that 12Stone and Buford officials had been cooperating on a permanent site for a new church.
The new facility will be up to 30,000 square feet and have about 800 seats and 564 parking spaces, Davis said. He compared it to the Hamilton Mill facility, although he stressed that it’s all still in the design phase. Work is expected to begin in summer 2016, with completion about a year later.
“(Buford) is a great community and a great place to raise a family, and there are a lot of people who move here,” Davis said of 12Stone’s decision to expand into Buford. He said that because of Buford Highway and Ga. Highway 20, that 12Stone sees “a reach beyond the city of Buford.”
In other action Monday, the commissioners:
— Approved a special use permit that will allow a storage facility for boat and recreational vehicles on McEver Road. Conditions for approval require that all repair work be done inside the facility and that all watercraft for sale or storage will occupy designated spaces.
— Authorized the Buford Community Girls Chorus to begin organizing a tour of Italy in June 2017, which will include appearances in Venice, Florence and the Vatican. “It’s unheard of for a little town like Buford to be asked to do this,” Commission Chairman Phillip Beard said.
— Authorized the purchase of excess power from the cities of Washington, Griffin and Fitzgerald. According to Beard, the purchase rate is about 3 cents per kilowatt, less than half the market rate. “We are going to need it here,” Beard said. “We’re a growth city.”
Also, Beard said he had “done nothing” regarding a fist fight involving Commissioner Chris Burge, his son Cory Burge, and Carson and Harrison Smith, sons of Commissioner Michael Y. Smith, that occurred during the Doobie Brothers concert in September. All four men were issued tickets for disorderly conduct.
“It’ll work itself out,” Beard said. “Time heals all wounds.”