By Ed Brock
The Rev. Wesley Greene will have Amazing Grace on Noah's Ark.
In a 3-2 vote the Clayton County Commission granted Greene's conditional use permit for the Amazing Grace World Outreach Church to be built on property near residential areas on Noah's Ark Road.
"The Lord blessed us to get the zoning approved," Greene said.
It appeared a blessing was needed when Greene walked into the commission's zoning meeting where by his own count 300 people were there to protest his request.
The land, owned now by the church, will actually retain its current zoning for agricultural use, and the council's approval came with at least two specific stipulations.
Number one, Greene cannot use the large lights installed on the property.
"It's like living next to a ballpark," said Molly Cottingham, who lives next door to the property, in a previous interview.
And he could not establish any kind of halfway house for prisoners as some had feared.
"That was just not the case. We never had any plans to build a halfway house ever," said Greene, adding that he has ministered to prisoners in state, federal and county detention centers. "But the prisoners don't come to us."
Greene said the threat of a halfway house was used to frighten neighbors into signing a petition in protest to the church, but Noah's Ark resident Bob Lynch, who lives two doors down from the property where a house still stands, said that's not the case.
"We're very unhappy with (the commission's decision) because they defied their own guidelines and their own rules," Lynch said.
Their concerns are, primarily, over increased traffic and drainage.
"We're trying to preserve our single family neighborhood and when you put a church in there that'll change things," Lynch said.
Other neighbors pointed out that they were not against church, just the location of this one.
"We're all church going people. We'd just prefer not to have (the neighborhood) open up for a commercial business as far as zoning is concerned," Kathy Belew of Noah's Ark Road said previously.
Lynch also said the commissioners who voted in favor of Greene's CUP, Charlie Griswell, Virginia Gray and Carl Rhodenizer, violated the county's land use plan and zoning ordinance to grant the permit. Commission Chairman Crandle Bray and Commissioner Gerald Matthews voted against the CUP.
Greene said the church would operate in non-peak traffic hours on Sunday and Wednesday evening and meets all of the county's requirements.
"We met those 100 percent across the way," Greene said. "It's just a community small church. We're a traditional church, we're here to serve the community and be a blessing for the community."