Site selection 'difference between success and failure' : Friday, May 28, 2004
May 28 2004 by Jane Paige

Site selection 'difference between success and failure' : Friday, May 28, 2004
Friday, May 28, 2004

Site selection 'difference between success and failure'

By Jane Paige
Special to the Recorder

About 15 years ago, Fairview Baptist Church started meeting in a small mobile unit on a 10-acre site in rural Wake County. Tobacco fields, horse farms and corn crops were among the few neighbors of the mission church.

Today, the church boosts a membership of almost 500 with large facilities on a 23-acre site. New homes and schools have replaced the tobacco and corn in the neighborhood.

Careful planning, a bit of luck and a lot of faith helped place Fairview Baptist on the perfect site right in fast growing southern Wake County. The church, located off State Route 1010, is ideally situated near Raleigh, Garner, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Apex and Cary. The church actually is on an Apex mail route and has a Garner telephone exchange.

"We are excited about how the Lord worked in all of this over the years," said Tommy Vick, a charter member of the church. "We are right in the center of the Fairview community on a perfect site for everyone to find and see."

Selecting the right site for construction of a new church is as important as picking the right architect or builder, according to church construction experts. The ideal site means the difference between success and failure of the church, they agree.

Getting a detailed land survey is extremely important for a new church site, according to Rick Murray, one of seven consultants with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina that helps congregations with church planning and building.

"Churches need to spend the extra money to get a complete land survey," said Murray, a retired general contractor who lives in Kernersville. "A lot of churches only get a survey showing the property lines, but they really need one that shows the land contours, building setbacks and all the other features."

Before purchasing a new land site, church members also need to talk with county or municipal planning department officials, he said.

"You need to ask these folks a lot of questions several times," Murray said. "It is important to know roadway requirements, zoning, future land development, watershed requirements and utility availability in the area. Accessibility, visibility and the actual size of usable land on the property also are important concerns.

"Being able to see the church and being able to get to it are important for the future growth," he said.

Murray also stressed the importance of selecting a site and location that coincides with the church's overall mission and ministry vision.

"People frequently don't buy a site that will successfully complete the vision they have for the church," said Robert Knowles, founder of Arks Incorporated and author of Successful Church Building. "They don't understand what they want for the church so they don't plan accordingly with the site."

Selecting the right site for a church is a challenging task and has become increasingly complex. It has been made more difficult as a result of tighter zoning restrictions, environmental concerns and lender requirements.

Knowles told the story of a church built near a river. As the years passed, county and state officials placed a watershed restriction provision on all property within a certain distance from the river. When it came time for the church to expand, it could not build because of these environmental limitations. The church was trapped, nowhere to grow and nowhere to go.

"This is one of those areas where you cannot be too careful in your due diligence," he said. "You must not only look at the current situation of the property, but you need to look ahead to potential pitfalls."

Churches want to buy in an area that is on the upside of the development market for housing and commercial real estate. This was the case for Fairview Baptist Church.

Fairview, a mission church of nearby Pleasant Grove Baptist, Fuquay-Varina Baptist and Fellowship Baptist churches, first met in a community building and then in a neighborhood flower shop.

Two area seminary students took a survey of residents in the community on the new church, and a possible permanent location. The 10-acre site near the intersection of Bells Lake Road and State Route 1010 was identified as a central location for the new church.

The original 10 acres was purchased in 1988, with an additional 13 acres purchased later. The two mobile units were replaced by the first building in 1991 and the second building in 2001. The area surrounding the church has exploded with growth in the past 10 years.

"Our founding pastor told us he dreamed about a church on that site and prayed it would happen," said Vick, the charter member. "His prayers and the prayers of many people came true for us on this site."
5/28/2004 12:00:00 AM by Jane Paige | with 0 comments

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