Albertville Board of Adjustments

Board chairperson Beth Stewart (left) said the church had withdrawn due to the backlash and threats it had received since announcing the plan. 

A local church wanting to build a new location in Albertville has reversed its plans after nearby residents voiced their strong opposition.

Centro De Oracion Mundial Emanuel, also known as Light of Nations Ministries, had requested a conditional use permit from the City of Albertville to buy land and construct a new church on a 65-acre parcel along Section Line Road. The church would have needed the permit to build there since the land is currently zoned R-1 residential.  

The City notified the surrounding property owners by mail — though not all received the initial notification letter — and told them to bring any concerns before the Albertville Board of Adjustments  during its June meeting. The issue was tabled at that meeting after tensions got heated between the board and the homeowners who banded together in opposition to the permit.

The issue was scheduled to be discussed again and decided at the Board of Adjustments meeting Tuesday evening, but it became a moot point after the church withdrew its application for the permit. Board chairperson Beth Stewart said the church had withdrawn due to the backlash and threats it had received since announcing the plan. Though Stewart did not specify the nature of the threats the church received, nor did she accuse any of the homeowners present at the meeting of making the threats, she did say she was “disturbed” by how the church had been treated and by the rumors being spread about the City not operating in the best interest of the public.

“This application process has been carried out in accordance with our regulatory laws and guidelines,” Stewart said. “...I’m appreciative of each one of you who have participated in this process to be better informed and to voice your support or your opposition to this application. With that being said … I’ve been very disturbed by the number of rumors and misinformation during this process. The church, they have received threats, which truly astonished me… I’m not accusing anyone here. I just want you to be aware of some of the things that have gone on over the last month.”

Yaite Ibarra Espino, a member of the church, told The Reporter the church had, like Stewart said, received threats and insults online and by phone, some of which included racist comments.

“It was pretty sad and disappointing, because we are a church and we believe in God,” Espino said. “…We want to help the community. We don’t want to fight with the community.”

Several residents who opposed the church’s plan told The Reporter at Tuesday’s meeting that they condemned any threats the church had received. The homeowners said they simply wanted to have their questions answered about what the church planned to do with the land. 

Many worried that with such a relatively large parcel, the church might also construct a school or large outdoor venue, which could increase traffic in that area significantly, they said.

Regardless of the means, residents at the meeting said they were pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting.

(1) comment

elroycleland

This slanted article simply doesn’t let the public know the entire story. I threatened no one and don’t appreciate being called racist because I opposed the secrecy and lack of transparency of what could be built or housed under a non profit church designation on 65 acres in my backyard. I don’t care if it was the Billy Graham crusade or Church of the Highlands or whatever group, any homeowner with a lick of common sense doesn’t want an ongoing who knows what circus in your backyard. Not one person on that board would be ok with it. The mayor wouldn’t...but because our great neighborhood dared to speak out and stand up for ourselves, we are vilified? Ridiculous.

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