City OKs Fellowship of Christian Athletes HQ

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Jun. 15—VALDOSTA — Displaced members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes have found new refuge at 2110 Jerry Jones Drive in light of Valdosta City Council's approval of the group's request to use the property as its new headquarters.

Bobby Willis and Donna Jones, Valdosta FCA's area director and administrative assistant, said they intend to use the space for administrative tasks and organization meetings.

"FCA's mission is to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. We cater to middle school, high school and college-age students. Most of our involvement with students and coaches is done on school campuses. Special events are usually held at local area churches. We need a place to hold small group (six to eight people) Bible studies a couple of times a week," Jones said in a statement.

"Our local staff consist of Bobby Willis as area director, Donna Jones as administrative assistant, and Dave Madison has just come on board with us as area representative. Now, having three full-time staff, we are out of room at our current office and need somewhere larger. We host 10 meetings a year for the FCA board with an average attendance of 12 people."

Matt Martin, city planning and zoning administrator, said the petition was "an unusual case" due to the facility only being operational during the daytime and early evenings in a residential area but the parameters of the area could maintain the integrity of the property if certain conditions are met.

"In spite of the relatively high traffic counts along Jerry Jones Drive, the subject property is completely surrounded by a very large and stable residential area which has been maintained for more than 50 years. The introduction of any non-residential uses into this area should be weighed and considered very carefully, and the perception of any non-residential encroachment along Jerry Jones should be avoided," he said.

"In this particular case, however, the subject property is larger than most other adjacent properties and has driveway access only onto Jerry Jones. The property's existing building will continue to match the massing and residential appearance of the surrounding area according to the request. It could very well be considered compatible here as long as it avoids the negative perception of encroachment. It is paramount that the overall residential character of the property and this neighborhood be maintained."

The planning committee recommended approval as long as FCA complied with:

1. The organization must utilize the existing building and adjacent grounds for administrative office and meeting space, as well as passive or light recreation. The existing building shall maintain its residential character and there shall be no building expansions or new accessory buildings installed.

2. All parking shall be off-street and located on existing pavement only — with no pavement expansions. There shall be no vehicular or pedestrian access to/from Thomwall Street.

3. All Install perimeter landscaping along with a minimum 6-foot tall solid opaque privacy fence along the entire western boundary, as well as at least the westerly halves of both north/south side yards (fencing/plantings along the front halves is optional). The density of existing and new vegetation along these boundaries shall at least be comparable to that of a 20-foot-wide buffer yard in accordance with LDR requirements. This landscaping and fencing design shall be approved in advance by the city arborist.

4. There shall be no permanent signage on the property's exterior other than non-illuminated wall signage that does not exceed a cumulative total of 32 square feet and one incidental freestanding yard sign not to exceed 3 feet in height and 3 square feet in area. There shall be no banners or other forms of temporary signage allowed.

5. Daily hours of operation shall be limited to within the timeframe of 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

6. All outdoor lighting shall be residential in scale and shielded from all adjacent properties.

7. There shall be no outdoor speakers or other amplified/mechanical outdoor sound systems.

8. Conditional Use approval shall expire after two years from the date of approval if no Certificate of Occupancy has been approved for the facility by that date.

Willis fully agreed to the terms of the conditional permit and rezone, stating that FCA wanted to be a part of the neighborhood.

"This is a ministry, not a place to hang out or party or anything like that. We'll have no more than eight to 10 people in the building at a time and they will be supervised," he said.

Jerry Jones resident Johnny Johnson opposed the request when prompted by council, due to "a facility like this" not being conducive to the neighborhood.

After all sides presented, council member Tim Carroll made a motion to approve the request, with all council members except Eric Howard, approving the motion.