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FT street bands together against church
Armed with a petition signed by every household in their 27-home subdivision, residents of Willowbend Lane crammed the Franklin Township trustee meeting on June 25 to protest a proposed extension of their quiet cul-de-sac.
Potter’s House Church of God, which owns the land at the end of the road, recently approached the Franklin County Engineers in regards to continuing the street into their parking lot.
“There has been no request to extend the road,” clarified Pastor Jerry Davis of Potter’s House. “We inquired simply to learn what it would take if we wanted to do that and somebody has blown it out of proportion. It is certainly one of four viable options.”
Davis would not elaborate on what the other “viable options” would entail, but he did say that the church, located on Lowell Drive, wishes to expand. To do so requires additional parking and alternative entrances to the lot.
The county engineers organized a meeting with effected government entities including the EPA, traffic authorities and the Franklin Township trustees, Davis said.
Township trustees notified area homeowners, but the homeowners were not invited to the meeting.
“The church wants to come in and disrupt the tranquility of the neighborhood,” said Willowbend resident and former Franklin County commissioner Dewey Stokes. “They have not been straightforward and come to us or, to my knowledge, talked to the trustees. To open a dead-end road, you have to get permission from the entity that controls it, which, in this case, would be the Franklin Township Trustees.”
According to the township, opening the road into the church parking lot would increase traffic by more than 400 cars, although the church has refuted that claim.
The neighbors have multiple concerns in addition to the increased traffic .
Stokes said their streams would be affected by the run-off from the additional parking spots and the clearing of trees would increase white noise.
To extend Willowbend, a bridge would need to be built across a stream, and improvements would be needed to an existing bridge that the Southwest City Schools currently deems too weak to support a school bus.
The narrow road would need to be widened “to within 12 feet of the front of my house” and a traffic light would be necessary for Fisher Road, Stokes said.
“The reason people live there is the aesthetics of the neighborhood. If this thing goes through, many of us would have difficulties and lose our property values,” Stokes said.
Trustee Tim Guyton said that the trustees “drafted a letter to the county prosecuting attorney for advice”.
Guyton told the residents “sit back and do nothing until we hear from the church, then we will ask for a meeting and form a unified front. We are going to go to bat for you.”
“They’ll have a fight on their hands,” said resident Tiffany Mohler.
In a few weeks, the engineers should have written reports from all government entities involved, then the church will know the requirements and costs associated with the proposed extension.
Potter’s House does not know if the proposal would cost “hundreds, $100 thousands or $100 millions,” Davis said.
The next trustee meeting will be July 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the township office at 2195 Frank Road.
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