S.P. Council Airs Concerns on Brownson Plans
Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church has a permit to tear down its old chapel, but not permission to build a replacement.
The church's plan for a new building came before the Southern Pines Town Council for architectural review Wednesday.
Though council members admitted that the plan seemed to be within the town's architectural standards, they decided to send the plan to its two advisory boards, the Appear-ance Commission and the Historic District Commission, for review.
"I really don't like it," said Councilman David Woodruff, who is also a member of the church. "That probably won't come as a surprise to anyone. I'd like to have it passed to the Historic District Commission and the Appearance Commission."
Woodruff's wife, Blanche, is the chairman of the Appearance Commission. The council hopes to expand the Historic District soon. Currently, the church is not in the district, said Mayor Mike Haney, who is also a member of the church.
Haney said the council might be on "thin ice." Town Manager Reagan Parsons said that would depend on the final decision.
"I have trouble seeing how a building like this," Woodruff said, "replacing a historical building, fits in with the harmony and compatibility of Southern Pines."
The Appearance Commission meets Tuesday. The Historic District Commission meets Thursday. The council will probably take on the architectural re-view at its next regular meeting April 8.
Architect Pete Vogle, of Ramsay Burgin Smith Architects of Salisbury, said that the building is designed to incorporate much of the historic nature of the old chapel. The proposed building will include the steeple from the existing chapel and its windows. The steeple would be at the foot of the building.
"It's a wonderful way to maintain a piece of the old chapel and not make this look like the sanctuary itself," Vogle said.
Council member Abigail Dowd didn't like the proposal that the new building would be much closer to the road than the existing chapel. She said the loss of trees concerned her.
Former Gov. Jim Holshouser, a member of the church, said that the new building will line up with the sanctuary.
Dowd called the current sanctuary "over scale."
Vogle said that the discussion should not include consideration of the old chapel because the church already has a demolition permit. He said it should only be about the current plan.
Haney and Councilman Fred Walden seemed to be ready to vote on the review during Tuesday's meeting. They said they didn't need added input from the advisory boards, pointing out that the boards have limited legal authority to suggest changes.
"If what we have in front of us meets the code," Haney said, "I don't know how we are going to be able to legitimately deny it."
Woodruff and Mayor Pro Tem Chris Smithson pointed out that the ordinance says that buildings should be compatible with the overall character of Southern Pines.
"I don't think the code is written around some point system," Smithson said. "I surely hope the ordinance has not turned into a formula."
"The ordinance is written to define compatibility," Vogle said. "Meeting the ordinance leads to compatibility."
Vogle said that he thought the council was really saying that they didn't want the old chapel replaced.
"I'm not speaking about the demolition of the chapel," Dowd said. "I don't think you want me to do that. Your proposal is in keeping with your campus, but we have to think about the entire town."
The Rev. Grady Perryman asked, since Woodruff and Dowd have both said they don't like it, why it is going through other boards.
"I don't think they'll change their opinion," Perryman said.
Dowd said she hadn't made up her mind and Woodruff pointed out that though he didn't like the new building across the street at First Baptist of Southern Pines, he eventually voted for it.
"Don't think I'm all one way," Woodruff said. "The church across the street, I ended up voting for it. I didn't like that building either."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at moriarty @thepilot.com.
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