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Traffic, environmental concerns raised at meeting on Lutherville church

More than 100 people attend a community meeting regarding the proposed Grace Fellowship Church on Seminary Avenue in Lutherville. The meeting was held at Sheppard Pratt's conference center in Towson.
More than 100 people attend a community meeting regarding the proposed Grace Fellowship Church on Seminary Avenue in Lutherville. The meeting was held at Sheppard Pratt's conference center in Towson. (Photo by Pamela Wood)

More than 100 people packed a community meeting Monday night to voice concerns about a large church being proposed in Lutherville.

Grace Fellowship Church, currently located in a converted furniture warehouse in Timonium, plans to build a 78,000-square-foot church a few miles away on Seminary Avenue near Falls Road.

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At a meeting held at Sheppard Pratt's conference center in Towson, residents who live near the new church site raised concerns that it would bring additional traffic to already-busy roads, harm the environment, disturb the character of the neighborhood and harm property values.

Neighbors peppered Grace Fellowship representatives about their plans. Danny O'Brien, a retired pastor leading Grace Fellowship's building committee, tried to assure the church's critics that there are no plans to include an academic school and that the church won't have heavy attendance during the week.

"Are there some classes or groups that meet during the week? Absolutely," O'Brien said, though he said most of the church's activity would be on weekends.

Grace Fellowship has one worship service in Saturday afternoon and two services Sunday. Total weekend attendance is about 1,700 adults and 300 children, he said.

One man who was concerned about traffic said it won't be just residents who will suffer from backups — church members will get stuck in traffic, too.

"How could you think of putting your congregation through this?" the man asked.

Following Monday's meeting, Grace Fellowship has a year to file a detailed development plan with Baltimore County, said Christopher D. Mudd, the church's attorney. After that, the plan will be reviewed by a county administrative law judge.

A church is allowed under the zoning classification on the 21-acre property. The Baltimore County Council recently declined a request to change the property's zoning to a classification that still would have allowed a church, but would have limited how much of the land could be covered by structures and parking lots.

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