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South Hall residents trying to stop La Luz del Mundo's plans for property
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A religious group is looking to turn 272 acres in Flowery Branch into a development featuring housing, retail, hotels, offices and church space at 5071 Hog Mountain Road, across from Wade Orr Road and next to Sterling on the Lake, a 1,000-acre subdivision off Spout Springs Road. - photo by Jeff Gill

A petition has started to stop plans for “City of the Light of the World,” a proposed 272-acre, church-sponsored development featuring housing, retail, hotels, offices and church space.

“The massive influx of followers that would come into the area would adversely affect our roads and our schools,” the petition states. “Right now, Hog Mountain (Road), Spout Springs (Road), and numerous secondary streets are under strain already. Something of this magnitude would cause more traffic nightmares.

“The masses that would come to this compound and flood our streets is more than what our infrastructure can handle.”

The petition’s goal Monday, Sept. 17, was to reach 2,500 signatures. More than 1,500 had signed as of Monday evening.

Residents otherwise have been vocal on social media about the proposed development at 5071 Hog Mountain Road, across from Wade Orr Road and next to Sterling on the Lake, a 1,000-acre subdivision off Spout Springs Road.

An email that circulated last week included a map of the LDM Central USA Evangelical Ministries site, showing numerous proposed buildings throughout the property, designated as open spaces, marketplace, a “cultural center,” plaza and school property. Also, four hotels are shown on the “conceptual master plan.”

Rich Atkinson, the city’s director of planning and community development, has said the email also mentions a proposed rezoning, but “nothing has been officially submitted to the city.”

“We have met with the potential applicants but have not received a rezoning application,” he said.

LDM, or La Luz del Mundo, translated as The Light of the World church, based in Guadalajara, Mexico, plans to meet informally with residents about the proposal Thursday, Sept. 20, according to the email.

A March 2017 Facebook post by LDM describes "City of Light of the World" as its 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 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.

The property has quality public services and businesses, as well as area schools, culture and recreation, according to the post.

Plus, the area is ideal for families who want to live close to nature and crave spiritual peace, the post says.

LDM officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

The petition states that “the very nature of this ‘organization’ will decrease property values, as this area would no longer be a desirable place to raise a family.

“Thousands of homeowners would lose value in the homes they've worked so hard for, and this area will no longer be as sought after by future families. Their plan is to use their facilities, not those of our community, so the only one who seemingly benefits is this 'Apostle.’”