(WVLT) - A mega-church raises mega-concerns for nearby neighborhoods. The First Baptist Concord Church in Farragut has planned a multi-million dollar expansion. But neighbors worry it could bring more traffic problems and headaches along with it's Christian message.
It's hard to miss on Kingston Pike.
"Obviously we're a large church," Dale Collins says.
Nearly 42 acres...8 buildings...and more than 8000 members large.
"And that often raises concern," Collins continues.
Especially now...when the First Baptist Concord in Farragut wants to kick it up a notch.
"Over the last 15 years we've quadrupled in membership and attendance. The problem is we haven't built educational space in over 27 years," Collins says.
And a planned 37.5 million dollar....two-phase... expansion could change that. The first phase would tack on three buildings. The first building...a student place.
"That house our middle school and high school students," Collins says.
The second...a preschool place.
"That houses babies all the way through the fifth grade," Collins says.
And last...a central gathering place.
"That has to do with fellowship," Collins continues.
Also included...new parking and possible athletics facilities.
Here's the catch. The church also want's to re-route this road, Bellaire Drive as part of the plan. But it's the neighbors only way in and out.
"This just shows a total lack of concern for the Bellaire Community and our needs," Jeanne Brykalski says.
Jeanne Brykalski lives in the next-door subdivision.
"We are not opposed to the church growing. Churches need to grow, that is part of their commitment and covenant to God, but the way they go about it differs whether they are respecting God or using His name to what they want," she continues.
More than 100 homeowners packed Farragut Town Hall to let loose about the plan.
Their biggest concerns: traffic problems and they feel they've been ignored.
"We found out strictly through accident. We found out through the Glen Abbey Homeowners Association," Brykalski says.
But the church says it's always tried to be a good neighbor.
"I think it's a normal fear...that people are going to be steamrolled, but I can tell you that's not our intent," Collins says.
Neighbors hope it keeps that promise.
The town of Farragut has to approve any expansion plans. The church has presented them some options, but nothing's gotten the final thumbs up. The church plans to hold a meeting with nearby neighborhoods on Monday, July 23rd. The church says they'll put fliers in your mailbox with the exact time and location of that meeting.
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