12Stone Church is turning the other cheek to the city of Buford.
The organization is temporarily moving into Lanier High School, just outside the city limits, rather than entering a legal battle over the city commission’s denial of the church’s plans to set up on the site of a former Kroger.
“We are not taking any legal action — we are moving forward,” Norwood Davis, chief financial officer of 12Stone, said Friday. “We just don’t feel like it’s in the best interest of the city of Buford and the people of Buford (to sue).”
The faith-based group, with four permanent campuses and several temporary sites, is now looking for another location to build in Buford. 12Stone had planned for the Kroger location, which is about two miles away on Buford Highway from Lanier High School, to be permanent.
The commission didn’t think much of those plans.
The city board voted 2-1 Monday night to deny a special-use permit that would have allowed 12Stone in. According to city documents, putting a church in the Village Square Shopping Center could “cause existing commercial businesses within the shopping center to lose customer base,” though officials have said the church was generally welcome in the city.
Buford leaders couldn’t be reached for comment immediately Friday afternoon.
Davis acknowledged that those in his corner still aren’t happy.
“We’re disappointed. Sure, we’re disappointed,” he said. “We had put a lot of effort and energy into the Kroger. (But) anytime you’re growing and planning new campuses there’s always challenges. This was just one of those things.”
The Lanier High location is planned to begin operations in January, along with four others in the area. The other new temporary churches are also based at schools, including Pharr Elementary in Snellville, Yargo Elementary in Winder, Covenant Christian Academy in Loganville and Duncan Creek Elementary in Braselton.
“We just have great relationships with schools,” Donna Whitten, director of communications for the church, explained.
12Stone plans to move to a permanent location in Braselton in spring 2015.