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Signs Say Christ Church Anglican Underway Despite Opposition

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SAVANNAH, GA -

Signs are up announcing the construction of a new church in Savannah.  But neighbors are fighting it. 

The congregation of the Christ Church Anglican wants to move into the Thomas Square neighborhood.  But neighbors we talked to say they want to keep Thomas Square a quiet place to live.  They say they have no problem with the church itself, but they worry it will run families out of their homes. That's why they launched a lawsuit against the church. 

The Christ Church Anglican is the oldest church in Georgia at 281 years old this month. The congregation became homeless when it was kicked out of the building used by Christ Church Episcopal that is downtown.  That happened in a court fight after the ordination of an openly gay bishop by the national Episcopal Church in 2003. 

Virginia Mobley is president of the Thomas Square Neighborhood Association.  She says the primary concerns of neighbors are parking and noise.  The church has an agreement with the Infirmary of Georgia across the street where their congregation can use their parking lot on Sundays.

"How many churches only meet on Sunday," Mobley asked.  "You have funerals, weddings, church meetings."  

And Mobley is skeptical the lot has enough spaces for their Sunday services.

"This supposedly is a congregation with 300 members.  Even if you had only 100 cars attending a service, where are the other 50 going," she asked.   

But Pastor Marc Robertson disagrees, saying "there's plenty of adequate parking."  He went on to say he thinks the community will benefit more from having the church in the neighborhood than it would hurt it. 

Then there's the challenge of what to do with the 100 year old yellow house on the lot that will have to be moved.  Pastor Robertson says they hope to move it to the back corner of the lot, restore it and use it for something good.  

The Anglicans closed on the property on 37th and Drayton Street in December.  Now they have to submit revised sight and dimension plans as well as a proposal for what to do with that house. 

Tom Thomson of the Metropolitan Planning Commission says church leaders are in the driver's seat as far as what happens next. 

"So there's a different process for each of those. I could see that taking from 3 to 4 months perhaps, if everything is approvable and no issues arise," said Thomson.   

Pastor Robertson says they will submit their revised proposal any day now.  This would be their second proposal.  The first one was rejected for being out of compliance with four different zoning ordinances.  Two of those have been allowed by the zoning board.  The new proposal is expected to comply with the other two. 

There's no word on a timeframe for when construction might begin, but Pastor Robertson says it's not likely to be any time this calendar year. 

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