A proposed expansion of a Stockbridge church and development of an upscale campground in McDonough were the two items on the Henry County Zoning Advisory Board’s agenda for its September 24 regular meeting.
Global Impact Christian Ministries, currently located on Red Oak Road in Stockbridge, is in the process of acquiring 53 acres of property on the northeast corner of Thurman Road and Patillo Road. The site is zoned RA (residential-agricultural), and a church is is a permitted use in that zoning with a conditional use, which is what the church was seeking from the ZAB at this hearing.
There are currently four structures on the property, and the church intends to use all of them eventually for various reasons. The latest site plan submitted to the county’s planning staff calls for a new 37,000-square-foot facility that would include a sanctuary with a seating capacity of just over 1,000.
Staff recommended approval with a few conditions regarding minimum sight distance at access points to the property and possible road improvements should it be used during the week for a school or daycare. The church’s pastor said neither of those uses are planned and he does not expect to develop outside athletic facilities requiring lights, but the church wants to target all ages in the area through different ministries and also make the facility available for local civic groups.
The church utilizes off-duty police officers at its Red Oak location to deal with traffic, and the pastor said he expects to do the same at the new site. Assuming permitting and the sale of the property proceed as planned, he said the church should be moving forward with construction in six months to a year.
The ZAB approved the conditional use request with all staff recommendations.
A modification to zoning conditions was requested by a group known as Iris Lake Henry 888, LLC for a 141-acre tract on Iris Lake Road on the southern edge of McDonough. This applicant received approval a year ago for a conditional use for outdoor amusement, with plans to develop a zipline attraction among other things.
That idea has been discarded now that Georgia Glamping Company has joined the applicants with a plan to create an upscale campground on the site. The proposed change in use is what required the applicants to petition for the allowance of additional uses under the RA zoning.
The property also fronts on Coan Road and Rabbit Run, according to a spokesperson for the applicant, but development in question is planned for the 64 acres along Iris Lake Road, which includes a 22-acre lake. The final number of camping sites will be determined by septic tank availability. The spokesman said that residential development would probably be more profitable for this site but they wanted to do something that enhances the area in a different way.
Georgia Glamping Company has another location in Forsyth County near Lake Lanier that has been booked 100 percent since May 1, according to its owners, with many Georgians choosing to vacation closer to home during the COVID-19 situation. About 100-150 families per month are staying there.
The ZAB approved the modification request as recommended by staff. Georgia Glamping Company posted on its website and Facebook page that a spring 2021 opening is planned for the Iris Lake location.