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Hispanic church ordered to stop remodeling project on Dawsonville Highway
Hall official says work not covered by residential permit for remodeling
Ever Oliveros waters newly planted grass Tuesday morning on the grounds of a new Hispanic church under construction at 2344 Dawsonville Highway. County officials stopped the project March 22 when they realized work entailed more than the remodeling permit they issued, and the church is in the process of obtaining a new permit. - photo by Carlos Galarza

The pastor trying to open a new Hispanic church at 2344 Dawsonville Highway said Tuesday he’s hopeful of getting the project out from under a “stop work order” by Hall County.

Samuel Samaniego, pastor of the church, said he is bringing an architect and engineer to a plan review meeting at the Hall County Government Center today.

“We will be showing the county renderings of what we want to do there,” Samaniego said. “God willing, we hope to meet all of the county’s requirements so we can move ahead with the project.”

Samaniego said he expects work to be completed in a month or two after the stop work order is lifted.

The 46-year-old pastor said his 200-member congregation moved to the Gainesville area from Oakwood, where it had been for the past 10 years. He said the church — Iglesia Bautista Cristo es la Roca — purchased the 7-acre property on Dawsonville Highway to grow the ministry.

“It’s important that the community know that our ministry has helped many people turn away from drugs, alcohol and vices,” Samaniego said. “We’re talking about 30 to 40 families that have been restored. We’re here to help this city, county and state.”

Samaniego said he received a calling from God to leave California and launch a ministry to help Hispanics in Georgia.

“Right now, we’re just trying to get the necessary permit to continue with the project,” Samaniego said.

Samaniego was issued a residential permit for interior and exterior remodeling on Jan. 20, according to Charles Turner with Hall's engineering office. Turner said a stop order was issued March 22 when it became evident that work being done was not covered by the original permit.

Turner said the plan review meeting held Wednesdays at 9 a.m. is a great opportunity for residents or contractors to do their due diligence before beginning a project. He said various departments are represented at the meeting, including planning and zoning, the fire marshal, Gainesville utilities, engineering and traffic engineering.

“There are a lot of regulations and ordinances, and it’s best to come and ask before they build,” Turner said.

Samaniego said he and the congregation are praying that in a week or two the county will allow the church to resume work on completing the project.

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