Public safety concerns have led to the cancellation of a meeting Thursday, Sept. 20, between a church and residents over the church’s plans to build a mixed-use, 272-acre development in South Hall.
Residents, however, plan to hold a community-only meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at Cherokee Bluffs Park at 5867 Blackjack Road, less than 3 miles from the proposed site on Hog Mountain Road at Wade Orr Road.
As for the meeting between the church and residents, recent information provided to the county “reveals that attendance of your meeting will greatly exceed the attendance estimate and could substantially overwhelm the design capability” of the Mulberry Creek Community Center, Hall County Attorney Bill Blalock said in a Tuesday letter to Joshua Scoggins, a Cumming lawyer representing LDM Central Evangelical Ministries.
“Specific concerns of the county are the lack of parking, restroom facilities, garbage and trash accumulation and lack of security to accommodate the attendance estimated to be between 1,000-1,500 individuals. For a meeting of this size, it is obvious that a larger venue should be sought.”
Katie Crumley, Hall County spokeswoman, said in a separate email that the crowd estimate is based on Sterling on the Lake, a 1,000-acre subdivision next to the property, emailing an invitation to 1,200 households.
The meeting, which had been set for 7 p.m. at the community center at 4491 JM Turk Road, was specifically for Sterling residents because of the neighborhood’s closeness to the property, Scoggins told The Times in an email Wednesday, Sept. 19.
However, it also “was intended to be the first of several meetings with various adjacent property owners to discuss the project and work through any legitimate concerns the neighboring property owners may have about the project,” he said.
“We will continue to try and meet with the various stakeholder groups in the community to address any legitimate concerns,” Scoggins added.
Rich Atkinson, the city’s director of planning and community development, has said that “nothing has been officially submitted to the city” concerning LDM Central Evangelical Ministries’ proposal.
“We have met with the potential applicants but have not received a rezoning application,” he said.
An email from Sterling to residents about the project included a map that showed numerous proposed buildings throughout the property, designated as open spaces, a marketplace, “cultural center,” plaza and school property. Also, four hotels are shown on the “conceptual master plan.”
A March 2017 Facebook post by La Luz del Mundo, translated as The Light of the World church, based in Guadalajara, Mexico, identifies the project as “City of Light of the World.”
The project is LDM’s “first effort to build “cities where the values that distinguish human beings are cultivated, (people) live in an atmosphere of peace, equity, solidarity and above all, on the principles that human beings can achieve the harmony of living together by applying the statutes of healthy coexistence that the Lord Jesus Christ left to his apostles in teaching,” the post says.
The church is led by Apostle of Jesus Christ Naasón Joaquín García, who toured the Flowery Branch site, according to an English translation of the Facebook post, written in Spanish.
Garcia is international director of LDM.
“LDM Central wants to build a project the community can be proud of, and we will continue working to achieve that goal by building positive relationships with local residents, business owners and government officials,” Scoggins said.