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Church proposed for vacant Abingdon property

Leaders of the Love Fellowship Christian Center Inc. of Bel Air have been asked by the county to revise their plans to build a church in Abingdon to ensure there is enough space between the church property and existing residential and school property.

Love Fellowship is seeking county approval to build the 18,400-square-foot church facility, which includes a 500-seat sanctuary, on 7.28 vacant acres in the 2900 block of Philadelphia Road, according to the site plan presented to the members of the county's Development Advisory Committee during their Wednesday morning meeting.

Shane Grimm of the county's Department of Planning and Zoning stated during Wednesday's meeting the site plan must be revised to include a 50-foot "use setback" between the edges of the parking lot and the property boundaries for William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School and the property of Lola Lambert.

"Parking spaces and drive aisles are not permitted within the use setback," Grimm stated.

There is 103 feet between the corner of the building and the edge of the Lambert property, according to the plan, but Moe Davenport, chairman of the DAC, stressed after the meeting there must be 50 feet between the edge of the parking lot and the adjacent property line.

Davenport said the revised plan must be submitted to Planning and Zoning.

The site, which is zoned R1 for residential uses, is a combination of two vacant parcels; one is owned by Windell and Donna Stambaugh of Churchville, the other is owned by Shirley Giles, et. al, of Aberdeen, according to the plan. Love Fellowship is listed as the contract purchaser.

The site is between the Harford Education Society mosque and the elementary school, which are both off Philadelphia Road and about two thirds of a mile apart.

The site has access to public water and sewer, Darryl Ivins, who represents the county's Division of Water & Sewer on the committee, said.

Rich Zeller, who represents the State Highway Administration on the committee, said a traffic study for the new church is being reviewed by his agency.

The parcel along Philadelphia Road is covered with high grass, dirt paths and fallen tree limbs. Aging utility poles, with street lights still on them, and the remains of a house can also be seen. The rear parcel is wooded.

The plan includes a parking lot with 173 spaces and stormwater management facilities built within a portion of the property that is wooded and includes wetlands, and it is designated as a Natural Resource District.

Grimm also stated that part of a drive aisle in the parking area is in the Natural Resource District, and it must be removed.

Natural Resource Districts cover areas such as steep slopes with a grade of at least 25 percent, nontidal wetlands and buffers of at least 75 feet on either side of a stream, according to the county zoning code.

The districts are designed to protect steep areas, the quality of waterways and wetlands, protect native plants, reduce erosion and protect people and developed areas nearby from erosion and flooding.

The district cannot be disturbed, other than for uses such as agriculture, forestry, plant maintenance, recreation areas such as walking trails, utility transmission, a minimum amount of crossings for roads and driveways and stormwater management infrastructure, according to the code.

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