Raleigh church will regroup about parking lot plan after ‘intense’ community meeting

From safety and traffic to stormwater runoff and historical integrity, Five Points neighbors aired a number of reasons Monday night why they oppose Hayes Barton Baptist Church’s plan to tear down six historic homes to add a church parking lot.

Yet what bubbled up during the nearly two-hour-long session between the more than 200 neighbors, church supporters and community members were not only concrete concerns but also issues of fairness and sacrifice.

“This has been pretty intense,” said church pastor David Hailey. “We need to regroup and cool down and give some thought to what has been said.”

The church, tucked into the corner of Whitaker Mill Road and Glenwood Avenue, has wanted to add parking for a long time to make it easier to drop off children at the church preschool and to help less-mobile church members reach the sanctuary, Hailey said.

During a long-range capital planning process, the church looked at demolishing six houses it owns along White Oak Road to add more than 70 parking spaces. Five of those homes — 1810, 1812, 1814, 1816 and 1818 White Oak Road — have been rented out by the church, some for decades. The sixth, 1806 White Oak Road, was purchased this month. All of the homes except for the one right behind the church are considered contributing structures to the Bloomsbury Historic District, which was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Hailey outlined this history, along with Mary Beth Johnston, and talked about the church’s contributions to the greater community during a 20-minute presentation. They came, both Hailey and Johnston said, to listen, understand and better learn about the concerns of the neighborhood.

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(The News & Observer, 3/20/18)