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Former Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy set to become church

The former Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy is set to become a house of worship after the Planning Commission gave its unanimous recommendation to a conditional use permit for the site.

Commissioners voted unanimously at their Oct. 20 meeting to recommend a conditional use permit for the site. Commission chairman Howard Benton said City Council would take up the matter at its Nov. 18 meeting.

Former state delegate Chris Jones owns the property with his wife in the Food Lion shopping center at 3219 Bridge Road and is leasing it to Pastor Lorenzo J. Mallory Sr. of Greater Dimensions Kingdom Ministries to convert the 7,432-square-foot building into a church.

Jones operated a pharmacy for nearly 34 years — the last 24 years at the Bridge Road location — before closing it in 2019. At the time, Jones said the decision to close the pharmacy was difficult, but economics left him no alternative.

“It’s a less intense use, I think, than the pharmacy,” Jones said of the church during a public hearing on the conditional use permit request. “We were very particular in who we wanted to lease this property to. We had several individuals who would have liked to have leased it.”

Jones said the church, currently located off of Bridge Road near the Isle of Wight County line, came along about four to five months ago.

“They’re a wonderful family,” Jones said. “They have great leadership, and we are very pleased to have them as the potential tenant for this site.”

Mallory said at the public hearing that the church has been at its current location for about six years, but “we had a need for a larger space.”

The main sanctuary for the church would seat a maximum of 50 people and be 2,075 square feet, according to a floor plan for the church. It will also have office space for employees, a Sunday School classroom and kitchen space to serve light refreshments. There are no plans for daycare on the property.

Proposed operating hours of the church would be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays for Bible study.

The staff analysis of the proposed permit noted that parking would not be an issue. Planning staff recommended approval of the conditional use permit.