Street Expansion Could Take Away Church Sanctuary - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/23/06

Street Expansion Could Take Away Church Sanctuary

The expansion of 50th Street from Slide Road to West Loop 289 could cut 30 feet off the front of Faith Assembly of God Church and with it, more than half of the sanctuary's seating capacity. The process has now entered into eminent domain proceedings.  

The church already sits pretty close to 50th street.  The current widening project only requires the church to lose the front peak of their building.  Pastor Terry Nesmith tells us the city would grandfather them in, allowing the church to sit just a few feet away from the new 50th Street, but Nesmith says for safety, they need a bigger barrier.  That's why church leaders say they need a 30 foot easement, but that takes away a large chunk of their church.

City leaders offered the church $250,000, but Nesmith says that's just not enough. 

"The church doesn't have a bank full of money to rely on for reconstruction," said Nesmith. Nesmith says the church would need a lot of it.  "When you have to lose 30 feet of the front of your building and reduce your seating size from 150 down to 50, that's quite a bit of difference," said Nesmith. 

Nesmith says this process has been on going since February of 2005.  He says the city originally offered $200,000 for the church's displacement.  Later, that offer went to $250,000. 

"$250,000 doesn't even come close. We're looking at around $1-million to reconstruct," said Nesmith. 

In May, a court-appointed commission ruled the displacement worth $510,000.  Nesmith tells us that is a fair offer, but the city appealed that decision, and now the two are involved in eminent domain proceedings. 

"There is emotion involved in this because this is a church.  It's a place where people worship.  Funerals take place here, weddings.  We're hoping, praying, trusting that this will finally be resolved," said Nesmith. 

City leaders say they are not able to say much about this case because of the pending litigation, but Mayor David Miller did tell us that he believes the city offered a fair price, above market value for the property.  Nesmith says they expect a decision to be reached soon, but he didn't have an exact time.

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