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Jehovah's Witnesses Will Be Allowed to Build Church in Dacula

In a unanimous vote, the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners voted to approve a special use permit to allow the construction of a church on Ace McMillian Road.

The proposed Dacula Kingdom Hall. Credit: Gwinnett County
The proposed Dacula Kingdom Hall. Credit: Gwinnett County
The third time was the charm for members of the Dacula Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

In a unanimous vote, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved a special use permit which would allow the Jehovah's Witnesses to build a 5,000-square-foot church on their property located in the 1500 block of Ace McMillian Road

Before making a motion to approve the request, District 3 Commissioner Tommy Hunter thanked both the applicant and those opposed to the request.

"It's been spirited, it's been constructive," Hunter said referring to his discussions with both sides.

In his motion, Hunter included several conditions which must be met regarding exterior appearance of the structure, lighting, buffers, signage, air conditioning unit placement and parking lot requirements.

The Oct. 22 vote ends a long battle by Dacula-area Jehovah's Witnesses.

According to Marian Adeimy, the attorney representing the Jehovah's Witnesses, the church has owned the property for over seven years and has tried on two previous occasions -- in 2011 and 2007 -- to have the parcel rezoned for the purpose of building a church.

"It's been made clear by the county, the department of transportation and the planning commission that the only reason the church is before you is because Ace McMillian Road is misclassified," Adeimy said at the Oct. 22 Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Ace McMillian Road is categorized as a minor collector road. Churches are allowed on property zoned as RA-200 except when the roads are classified as a minor collector.

During the Sept. 3 planning commission meeting in which members voted 8-0 to recommend approval for the special use permit request, District 3 planning commission member Chuck Warbington said discussions with DOT officials convinced him Ace McMillian is improperly designated as a minor collector road.

"The only reason this is coming in is because of classification of a road -- not because it's agricultural, not because it's residential -- but because of classification of that road," Warbington said. 

Tuesday night, area resident Betsy Strauss, addressing commissioners on behalf of neighboring property owners, said the church would be an incompatible use when compared to surrounding properties and does not conform to existing land use plans.

"Those attracted to a rural estate area will not want to live in our neighborhood anymore," Strauss said. "We will be damaged."

Adeimy said church members have spent hundreds of hours trying to reach a solution that would satisfy surrounding property owners regarding concerns about traffic, light pollution and property values. The use of the property for a church, she said, would be a good fit for the community.

"This is not a mega-church," Adeimy said. "This is a small community church for Bible worship."

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Andrew October 22, 2013 at 09:14 PM
What a shame. There goes the neighborhood.
Brian Crawford October 22, 2013 at 09:38 PM
There are little churches at every other crossroad throughout rural Georgia. Congratulations to these folks for winning their battle for religious freedom.
M.K. OSBORNE October 22, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Brian this was a zoning issue only ... take your liberal crap back to Barrow County ! And DOT update your records !!!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew October 22, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Actually the road class isn't WRONG and its presence was acknowledged by the applicant along with the zoning requirements BEFORE they bought the land ... Kinda of like "A mistake on your part doesn't always mean an immediate CRISIS response on my side". This was simply a case of a group buying land and not thinking through the project.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew October 22, 2013 at 11:40 PM
So would it have moved along in a little friendlier manner if the group had simply admitted the mistake and asked for help as opposed to hiring a lawyer to rant about the 14th amendment? There was no loss of religious freedom at stake here -PERIOD. Just a we want to do this "OUR way" and since they don't appear to be from around THERE, the neighborhood should be interesting, I sincerely hope they study up on those property conditions going forward.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew October 22, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Of course I just can't wait till the next round where expansion is on the table. Open campus land on the adjacent tract calls out for change. As to churches on every corner crack, how many were built on this type of minor road? (Bonus points if you post the location and date)
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew October 22, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Sad part of the takeaway is that the Planning Dept is simply racking up a reputation as an apparently meaningless appendage, since a recommendation of denial and its override vote percentage is coming awfully close to the Propeller Briscoe airport proposal ranking - remember that winner anyone? Heck, even local TV**** weather reports experience higher success rates.
Kristi Reed (Editor) October 23, 2013 at 06:01 AM
A gentleman got up at the end of the time allocated to the opposition and asked why, in the past seven years, had the church not worked with the DOT to get the road reclassified if it was indeed misclassified. I never heard an answer to that, but thought it was a very good question.
Glenn October 23, 2013 at 07:40 AM
Following the posts on this matter I have learned how small government often does not work and some Christian hate-speak which seems to be acceptable to a few. (???)
Isabella Botticelli October 23, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Get ready to welcome more pedophiles into your neighborhood. CITY HALL, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Jehovah's Witnesses are a CULT that use mind control tactics to control their members. Watchtower is nothing but a publishing corporation hiding behind a religion. Don't anyone dare criticize me and tell me I'm a liar, I was a JW for over 40 years before I could break free. Please see jwfacts.com!
Andrew October 23, 2013 at 03:51 PM
This whole issue is a loss for the community. The JWs are a negative, the inappropriate use of the land is a tragedy and according to Isabella, a long time member, the JWs represent a threat to the security of our children.
Julia Barrick Douglas October 23, 2013 at 08:00 PM
We warned you. This is a group that protects child rapists and nobody is paying attention.
Pedro Bruno October 24, 2013 at 10:18 AM
My word- all the negativity by ex witnesses. A positive story hijacked by those who comfortably sit at home with nothing positive in their own lives - no solutions/help for others either. Having JW's in the area improves the neighborhood. They are reminded to conduct themselves as representatives of God who loves orderliness ( read peace ). Those who are disorderly are removed ( such as pedophiles - not tolerated at all and don't let disgruntled ones convince you otherwise - the quickest was to turn people against someone is to falsely claim the someone is a pedophile or the organization he belongs to harbors pedophiles. I have seen these false claims in action. It is a sham and is despicable.) Apostates always focus on the negative. Be thankful that witnesses have improved neighborhoods and be especially thankful that witnesses have improved healthcare for everyone with their noblood stand - now a Gold Standard in medical care - for everyone.
Pedro Bruno October 24, 2013 at 03:09 PM
From another build where some had concerns that proved baseless. Merrimack's The Telegraph Quote "Monday, October 21, 2013 MERRIMACK – A steady stream of concerns in Merrimack over the construction of a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses has dwindled into disinterest as not a single complaint has been logged with town officials since the building’s completion in July. “After the first ZBA meeting we were a little apprehensive,” Brigham said. “But all the concerns have been addressed. We have a very low impact.” Neighbors of the Kingdom Hall seem to agree. “I bought my house knowing that the church was going right next door,” said Ross Jubert, a Nashua fireman who directly abuts the Kingdom Hall property. “They’re the best type of people to live next to.” Jubert said he’s had no issues with his Jehovah’s Witness neighbors and says he much prefers the Kingdom Hall to the alternative: a subdivision. “They were going to put five houses in next door,” Jubert said. “I’ll take the church any day.” Unquote
Pedro Bruno October 24, 2013 at 03:18 PM
To those who falsely claim the witnesses harbor pedophiles -just in case you don't know-you have crossed the line between slander & criminal slander. Your not 1st hand claims since they are not based on fact are criminal chargeable offense - Be glad witnesses are peaceable and don't have you charged with the crime you are guilty of- they can do so at anytime- your internet armchair hiding is a misconception.
Isabella Botticelli October 24, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Pedro Bruno, you didn't offer one speck of proof for anything you said. All anyone has to do is google "jehovah's witnesses, pedophiles" and all OUR proof will come flooding up on your screen with 100s of true and current accounts of pedophiles among JWs. So, instead of calling us liars, why do you google the subject, then come back and tell everyone what you found. But you won't. We WERE JW, we know how they think, and you reacted exactly as you are trained to. You fear the real truth more than anything else, you can only respond with anger and denial. So, prove us wrong, google the info before you defend yourself and your religion again.
Andrew October 24, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Pedro, I dare you. I double-dog dare you to try and charge someone with something so ridiculous. Go ahead, make my day. Show us what you're made of.
Ashley October 27, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Awesome! Glad it all worked out :)
Andrew November 01, 2013 at 06:16 AM
I wish I knew where all the JWs live around here. I would've gone to their doors for Tricks or Treats. Oh wait, they don't believe in that. Is it because they don't like random people coming to their doors...?

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