Carroll congregation hopes its new site is annexed

Church in Mount Airy wants parcel connected to public water systems

November 21, 1999|By Michelle Yoffee-Beard | Michelle Yoffee-Beard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

St. James Episcopal Church needs to expand, and parishioners are hopeful that newly purchased land at Route 27 and Main Street will be annexed into Mount Airy, allowing the 112-year-old institution to remain within town limits.

Annexing the 12 acres north of the town limits would allow the church to tap into public sewer and water systems. The church is at 204 N. Main St., within town limits, serves about 125 families.

`No seats left'

"Our congregation seems to feel that this annexation is a good idea because there are no seats left at our worship services. The parking lot only allows for about a quarter of our congregation, and there's simply nowhere for us to expand," said Ronald R. Thomas, the church's senior warden.

"We needed to make this purchase in order to plan for the church's expansion," said Bradley Duggan, building committee chairman. "It's really important to have this property annexed into the town for many reasons, but the practical reality is that we'd really like to be able to hook up to the town's public utilities."

Duggan said the church would have to install a septic system and a well if the annexation were not approved.

Step by step

"The first step is to have this property annexed into the town of Mount Airy," Duggan said. "As we continue through this process, the church will be evaluating its needs and possible uses for the site. It seems fairly obvious that we would want to move our existing sanctuary. In addition, we would probably move our nursery, which is a huge part of who we are."

Church officials are uncertain whether they will move the St. James Thrift Shop, near Town Hall, to the site.

Favorable reaction

St. James crossed the first hurdle by getting the Mount Airy Planning Commission's approval.

"Things seem to be going very well. [The planning commission] seem very favorably inclined to let us forge ahead with the annexation," Duggan said.

The church won't be counting its blessings until the last "yes" vote is in.

Without the consent of the Mount Airy Town Council and Carroll County planners, the annexation cannot go forward.

Monica Jenkins, Mount Airy's planner, said the annexation proposal has not faced opposition.

"The fact that the church wants to stay in town is exciting," she said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to go forward and have St. James annexed soon."

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