Church’s relocation plans facing obstacles in Trinity

Jun. 23, 2013 @ 03:00 PM

Leaders of a High Point church that got its start in Trinity a decade ago would like to return to their roots.
Lights for Christ Ministries is finding this to be no easy task.
They want to build a church on N.C. 62 on the site of the former Trinity Inn, a portion of which dated to the 1840s. It once operated as a hotel and had historic significance to the community because of its role as a boarding house for students at Trinity College — the 19th century forerunner to Duke University.
Church leaders said they bought the property in February, only to discover that Trinity’s zoning ordinance does not allow churches in its Village Center overlay district, where the site is located. Trinity is trying to foster development of a downtown in this area and has reserved it primarily for commericial, office and residential uses.
Church pastor J.R. Hughart said he was never informed of this by the city, a claim that city officials maintain is not true.
The issue came to a head at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, when the church requested an amendment to the ordinance that would allow them to build on the site.
The church was founded in Trinity 10 years ago and has since moved to Lawndale Avenue in High Point. They would like to relocate a few miles south because many members are from the Archdale/Trinity area and the congregation needs more space, Hughart said.
“We are asking for this text amendment so we can come home and make this community a better place by drawing people to live and work here,” said Hughart. “I’ve seen people’s lives changed in this ministry by letting them know they are worth something, that God does care about them and does love them.”
The church had the former inn property demolished last month, which drew objections from some who viewed it as a loss of one of the community’s historic assets.
Hughart said the previous owner had allowed it to deteriorate to the point that it was virtually unsalvageable.
“It should have been restored 30 years ago when it was feasible,” said Trinity resident and church member Robert McGee. “Eventually, it may have been up to the city to tear it down. We paid the cost of demolition and removing the debris. We may have saved the city of Trinity some money.”
City resident and church member Joe Wingfield said he thinks allowing Lights for Christ to build in the center of the city will help foster growth.
“We’d like to be part of Trinity’s vision. We’d like to be part of Trinity’s future. I spend most of my money in Archdale and Asheboro. I would like to spend it in Trinity, but I can’t find a place to spend it,” he said. “I would like to be welcomed rather than ridiculed and regulated.”
Other residents spoke against Lights for Christ’s plans, arguing that churches, which are tax-exempt, are not a good fit for the Village Center district.
“I feel that location should be more delegated toward business and helping Trinity grow. The only thing you really have is taxpayer money from residents living here. Nobody comes to Trinity to buy anything,” said resident Brent Albritton.
The council took no action on the church’s request, voting to table it for further consideration.