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Church initiates plans for expansion

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A Hope church will decide early this month whether to build a new sanctuary and recreational facility on about 17 acres south of town.

First Baptist Church of Hope has approval from Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals to build a 71,732-square-foot sanctuary at the northwest corner of State Road 9 and County Road 500N in Hawcreek Township.

The proposal includes a new church building with 287 parking spaces, two athletics fields, a baseball diamond, an outdoor pavilion, a utility shed, a playground and a walking trail.

The existing First Baptist Church of Hope is located at 455 Jackson St.

Building the new church and adding the recreational facilities is supported by new church leadership, church pastor Mark Walker told the zoning board Monday.

The new church building and recreational offerings are an outreach to the community, Walker said.

The proposal expands on plans for a new, larger church which were initially approved by the zoning appeals board in 2006.

The church has approval to build in the agriculturally zoned area and received approval to build the outdoor pavilion before the sanctuary, which is usually not allowed under county ordinances.

Phase one of the construction calls for building the 2,200-square-foot pavilion, 104 parking spots on a temporary gravel lot, two athletic fields and the walking trail.

Walker said the church would be able to hold services at the pavilion for about 60 people.

The sanctuary won’t be built for another five years, Walker said.

Alan Moore, construction manager with S&B Construction of Indianapolis, said the first phase of the construction process would begin immediately and take up to 75 days to complete.

Zoning appeals board member Jason Newton was concerned the property would be used at night with people who are unsupervised and could potentially cause problems. He said he would like to see some kind of security added to the property while the church waits to build the sanctuary.

Board members asked that a gate be added to the property entrance to keep people out when the facility is closed.

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