A Baptist church in northeast Memphis is interested in relocating to Lakeland and came to City Hall tonight to take questions from residents.
Eastside Baptist Church, 3232 Covington Pike, is asking the City to rezone 11+ acres at U.S. Highway 70 and Evergreen Road to neighborhood commercial so they can build a new church and family life center.
Copy of report sent to the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) this month: https://tn-lakeland.civicplus.com/documentcenter/view/6506 . According to Tom Skehan, city planning director, the rezoning process involves a public hearing at the Sept. 21 MPC meeting and then two readings before the Board of Commissioners in October and November.
Between two residents who attended the meeting, there were several overriding concerns: How will stormwater be handled, what can be done about the dangerous intersection and outdoor lighting. Richard Gonzalez and Clint Starnes both live near the proposed church and queried representatives from Eastside.
Mr. Starnes said his house flooded two or three years ago. “There have been some improvements but not enough,” he said. He was concerned that with new development the detention pond would not be able to handle additional storm water.
Mr. Gonzalez asked if a site plan for the new church would include improvements to the intersection. Mr. Skehan said that question is unanswerable until a site plan determined if there would be access just on Evergreen or also on Highway 70.
Also a concern from Mr. Gonzalez were lights on proposed athletic fields. Billy Bailey, a deacon with the church, noted there are many innovative ways to do outdoor lighting now and the Church would certainly try to work with the neighborhood about the lights.
Finley Cutshaw has been the pastor of the Church seven of its 40-year history. He said the membership of 350 to 400 is worshiping in a facility on 4+ acres currently land-locked. “We like the Lakeland community and have funds to purchase the property outright if it is rezoned,” said Pastor Cutshaw.
With a few facility, they would reproduce their current facility plus add athletic fields and grow their membership. He says there is no rush to build the venue, but instead would likely take two to five years and build in phases. He doesn’t have a cost for the construction but estimated several million dollars.
He said the goal would be to seat 600-800 people with room to expand to 1,000 for special occasions requiring about 10,000 square feet of space. The location would have 300-500 parking spaces.
A family life center would have a full size gym, racquetball room, industrial kitchen, fellowship hall, storage, restroom and shower facilities and educational space. In the future, they might consider a Christian day school, pre-school and day care.
Recreational facilities would include youth basketball, soccer, T-ball, softball and baseball. They would also offer adult softball, volleyball and basketball. In addition, plans include five summer day camps as well as developing an outdoor area for open-air concerts and drama productions.
… Photos by Jim Willis, Lakeland Currents.