Grace Fellowship Church walks away from Seminary Avenue property in Brooklandville

Grace Fellowship Church will not go forward with its plans to build a large church on Seminary Avenue in Brooklandville, which had met with intense opposition from the community.

The church's leadership told opponents on Saturday, and a video was posted on Grace's website explaining that the church would likely be unable to gain approval from Baltimore County for parking on the site, just east of Falls Road.

In a question-and-answer section on the church's website, officials said the decision did not have to do with community opposition.

"Although our relationship to the community and neighborhoods close to the Seminary property site is of high importance to us, we ultimately reached the decision based on our growing needs and the reality that the property's limited ability to meet those needs would not be approved by the County," church officials wrote.

Church officials could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

The church now operates out of a converted furniture warehouse in an office park in Timonium. It had planned to build a new 78,000-square-foot church on 21 wooded acres in Brooklandville. The church's weekend attendance was about 2,000 as of September.

Neighbors had opposed the project because they feared it would foul the aquifer that feeds wells they use for drinking water and worried that runoff would harm Deep Run, a stream that runs along the property.

"Obviously, we are extremely pleased that they've chosen to abandon the development on Seminary Avenue, which we've felt was not in keeping with the rural nature of our community," said Mike Friedman, who led efforts to block the new church and heads a local neighborhood association.

Church officials said on their website that they had spent $469,000 on the project, toward a nonrefundable deposit, surveyor fees and other costs. They plan to keep looking for another home.

The decision comes after Hunt Valley Baptist Church sued the county zoning appeals board last month over its decision to block a 1,000-seat church with classrooms and a gym on a 17-acre farm just west of Interstate 83. That project also faced community opposition.

Grace Fellowship tried in 2008 to buy the 30-acre Padonia Park Club to build a 150,000-square-foot church with a sanctuary that would have seating for 2,500 worshippers. That effort fell through after community opposition.

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