Jonesboro leaders poised to OK church relocation

File photo
The owners of Swint's Feed and Garden Supply are seeking a conditional use permit from the Jonesboro City Council, to allow Jonesboro Church of God and Christ to relocate to a vacant space in the store’s building.

File photo The owners of Swint's Feed and Garden Supply are seeking a conditional use permit from the Jonesboro City Council, to allow Jonesboro Church of God and Christ to relocate to a vacant space in the store’s building.

A presentation made to the Jonesboro City Council on Monday, revealed that the church that may open in the Swint’s Feed and Garden Supply building is actually an existing congregation seeking to relocate from unincorporated Clayton County, to within the city limits.

Swint’s Feed and Garden Supply Owner Willis Swint, and his son, Roger Swint, filed a conditional use request on behalf of the Jonesboro Church of God and Christ, to relocate the church into a suite that is part of a building located at 252 North Main Street, in Jonesboro. The building is anchored by the Swint family’s gardening supply store.

If approved by the City Council, the church would only be moving a few blocks, since it is presently located at 7718B North Main Street, in Jonesboro.

“They are moving from over where the old car wash, and the old movie theater, used to be located,” said Willis Swint, after the presentation. “They’ve been in existence since 2002, and they don’t have too many members. They probably only have about 35 members.”

The City Council is expected to vote on granting the conditional use permit at its next business meeting, on Feb. 13, in the council chambers, at the Jonesboro Police Department, 170 South Main Street.

The Swint’s building is currently zoned in a “highway commercial district,” meaning a conditional use permit is needed for the church to move into the location.

Councilmembers asked few questions during Roger Swint’s brief presentation on the permit request, and some of them later said they saw no real issues with the church relocating into the building. Mayor Joy Day said the church was looking to move into the Swint’s building, because the rent at its current location had “increased dramatically” and become too expensive to stay there.

She said the city received a letter from the owner of the Dairy Queen, located next to the Swint’s building, expressing support for the church’s move. She added that there should be no code issues, if the church moves to the building.

“There’s plenty of parking over there,” Day said. “I mean there’s only 35 members.”

Councilmember Joe Compton said part of the reason why councilmembers are seemingly OK with the request is due to them trusting the judgment of Willis Swint, a respected member of the community. Compton and fellow Councilmember Randy Segner also said they believe having a tenant in the space, and paying rent, will help the Swint family with operating expenses for the building, which they own.

Compton explained that the city should to be doing whatever it can to help its businesses, like Swint’s Feed and Garden Supply, stay in business, and in the city.

“Anything that is going to help ease the burden [for the Swint family] of owning that building, and keep them going, and keep them in here, should be our No. 1 priority,” Compton said.

Segner said it does not hurt to have someone wanting to move into a vacant space on Main Street, either. “We need to have more businesses moving into the city, even though a church is not a business,” he said.

“Jonesboro Days” on the move?

In other action, councilmembers narrowed the list of potential dates for “Jonesboro Days,” to April 28, and May 19. The April 28 date would coincide with Georgia Cities Week, which city officials are planning to observe this year, according to Day. Meanwhile, the May 19 date would be the same weekend as McDonough’s Geranium Festival, causing the two events to compete for spectators, she said.

Despite the name, “Jonesboro Days” is a one-day event, which Day said has traditionally been held the same weekend as the Geranium Festival. She said that has drawn some complaints from residents who would like to attend both events.

There was some talk among councilmembers, as well, about adding more activities to “Jonesboro Days,” to attract a wider audience. Compton suggested new activities could include a chili cook-off, a live band, and a Scarlett O’Hara Look-A-Like Contest.

“There are so many different things that we could do that might draw some interest to Jonesboro, and bring some people in here,” Compton said.

The council is expected to pick a date for the event at its Feb. 13 business meeting.