Church gets planners’ approval

Published 7:53 pm Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A large Chesapeake church will call up the moving vans and bring its congregation to Harbour View if the vote at next month’s City Council meeting goes its way.

Believers Church, currently located on Peek Trail just across the line, got a favorable result in Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

“(When) it began to be time for us to look for a place to relocate, we immediately thought the best place for us to go was into Harbour View,” Pastor Jamey Stuart said during the public meeting.

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The area’s diverse population will serve the church well, Stuart said. Up to 40 percent of the congregation already lives in northeast Suffolk.

“We felt like that was a pretty good reflection of who we are as a church,” he said. “We are a church on the give. Our vision is to see our facility be an intersection for the entire community.”

The new church would be located at 8034 Harbour View Boulevard, near Lockheed Martin, on a 6.6-acre parcel. The building would be about 48,000 square feet and seat about 900 in the auditorium.

The church has grown from about 600 people five years ago to about 1,200 on an average Sunday, Stuart said. The church holds four services to accommodate everybody and knows it’s time to grow.

The church’s future neighbors expressed support for the land use, but Bob Shriver, facility manager for Lockheed Martin, was concerned about the entrance to the construction site, which would be on the same street as the access to Lockheed’s parking lot.

“We’re deathly afraid there’s going to be an accident of some sort,” he said. “I would urge you to consider alternate paths from the main road to the construction site. Please, it’s for the safety of our folks and our visitors.”

Brian Mullins, owner of nearby River Stone Chophouse, also said he supported the church and believed members would contribute economically to his restaurant and other businesses in the area. He suggested construction vehicles could enter on the other side of his building, since his business does not open until 3 p.m.

The church also plans a daycare and public assembly space as part of the construction.

Harbour View is becoming a popular area for large churches. The Harbour View campus of Hampton’s large Liberty Baptist Church opened in September nearby.

City Council will consider the conditional use permit request on Feb. 19.