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Posted 24 Jul 2001   For week ended July 06, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02Jul01

By Kent Larsen

Church May Sell Forest Hills TN Site to Baptists

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reached a deal to sell a 21-acre site originally slated for the Nashville Temple to a Southern Baptist congregation who wants to construct a church on the site. The Grace Community Church would have to get zoning approval from the city of Forest Hills to build, and Forest Hills Mayor Charles Evers says he has "no opinion" about their plans.

The LDS Church announced the Nashville Temple in November 1994, but soon ran into community opposition to the Temple's construction on the site from neighbors who complained that the building didn't fit the neighborhood, "I felt like the suburban estates character of the city should be maintained," said Mayor Evers in 1996. Evers was instrumental in getting the Church's plans rejected.

The town's Forest Hills Planning Commission turned down the Church's request for a zoning change that would have allowed construction of a Temple after neighbors complained at a series of meetings. The neighbors also complained that the proposed Temple would bring traffic problems and more lighting, and that most residents wouldn't be able to enter the building. In April 1998, the Church abandoned plans for the Forest Hills site and built a smaller temple in nearby Franklin, Tennessee.

Now both the LDS Church and the city are making cautious statements about the Grace Community Church's plans. Mayor Evers said, "I have no opinion one way or another" until the church submits formal plans and City Manager Jim Pitman, who has been city manager for about a year, said "There's a possibility we could approve another church. Forest Hills is not against churches. The commissioners are not against churches at all. It depends on the type of church, and on how the building conforms to the land."

Meanwhile, LDS Church spokesman Kimo Wood told the Tennessean that the Church didn't care if another church built on the land, "We're always happy for other churches to be able to build where they want to build," Wood said. "We would be happy for any church that would do what they would like to do."

The Baptists have been looking for a location for their congregation in southern Davidson County for several years, according to David Atchison, an elder in the Grace Community Church. That church released a statement Friday saying that it would design its building to complement the suburban nature of the area and "will incorporate and take advantage of the natural topography and wooded characteristics of the site."


Mormons may sell Forest Hills site to Baptist-affiliated church
Nashville TN Tennessean 30Jun01 T1
By Christian Bottorff: Staff Writer


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