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The latest on proposed church off Friendship Road in South Hall
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A church is seeking a Hall County rule exception in trying to build on this site off Friendship Road/Ga. 347 in South Hall. - photo by Jeff Gill

Update: The Hall County Planning Commission voted Monday, March 20, to recommend approval of the church but with the key condition that only the rear of the building could have metal siding.

"That is a very high-profile road," commission Chairman Chris Braswell said. "With the building 38 feet in height, it will be seen from Friendship Road. So, that gives us concern and pause."

Original story: Bethel Faith Baptist Church is seeking all-metal siding on the building as an exemption from non-residential design standards Hall County has on its main roadways, such as Ga. 347.

Acceptable siding materials include brick and natural stone.

A prefabricated metal building is all the Korean-American church says it can afford right now. The question is whether that’s good enough for Hall County.

“A metal building was our only option due to its cost, which is … less expensive compared to other options available in the current construction market,” Bethel Faith Baptist Church says in Hall County planning documents.

As such, the church is seeking a variance, or exception, in non-residential design standards Hall County has on its main roadways, such as Friendship Road/Ga. 347. The 8,400-square-foot church is proposed on 9 acres at 3331 Friendship Road, between Spout Springs and Hog Mountain roads in South Hall.

Eugene Kim, who is seeking the variance on behalf of the church, says in a letter to the county that the church would be 515 feet from Ga. 347’s center line and a mound facing Ga. 347 is 47 feet in height. Plus, there would be two buildings in front of the proposed church.

“Most importantly, the topography at the site slopes sharply downward and is in a densely wooded and secluded area,” so there would be limited visibility of the proposed church, Kim said.

“We are planning other structures to be completed soon, which will comprise an Asian-American community center. This center will then be able to hold community events, such as conferences, activities and public forums, to name a few. These will surely benefit and be an asset to our local community.”

Hall County planning staff is recommending denial of the request.

Approval would “lead to inconsistent application of the nonresidential property development standard … along the primary thoroughfares in Hall County,” officials say in planning documents.

Design standards say that “exposed concrete block, painted concrete block, metal, tilt/up and pre-cast concrete are prohibited materials for any exterior wall.”

The issue is set to go before the Hall County Planning Commission on Monday, March 20.

The planning board can either table the matter or make a formal recommendation of denial or approval to the Hall County Board of Commissioners, which is set to take final action at an April 25 public hearing.