Council approves new Cross Church plan in west Fayetteville

An artist rendering show what a new Cross Church might look like at the southeast corner of Wedington Drive and Interstate 49 in Fayetteville.

Video still / Cross Church

Cross Church officials can finally move forward with the organization’s expansion plans in west Fayetteville.

Aldermen on Tuesday approved a revised rezoning request that will allow the church to build a new campus at the southeast corner of Wedington Drive and Interstate 49.

The decision comes about six weeks after the Planning Commission denied the church’s original request to rezone about 24 acres from a mix of C-2 (Commercial Thoroughfare) and UT (Urban Thoroughfare) to C-PZD (Commercial Planned Zoning District).

Commissioners said the C-PZD request was not in keeping with Fayetteville’s long-range planning goals for the area which encourage dense, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use developments.

At the time, the plan included enough space for a non-church-related hotel, restaurant, and fitness center.

Many members said they’d be more inclined to vote in favor of a plan with buildings constructed along the streets with parking in the rear, and a zoning district that allows for at least some potential for future residential uses. Others said the proposed projects could already be built under the UT zoning, and shouldn’t require any changes.

Before the decision could be appealed to the City Council, the private developers of the other projects separated themselves from the church’s proposal and will likely move forward under the current UT zoning.

With only the church to consider, Cross Church officials revised their plan and requested the remaining 16 acres be rezoned to the city’s P-1 (Institutional) district, a request that City Attorney Kit Williams said the council had no choice but to approve.

Williams said he would have legal concerns if the council denied the request. State and federal laws, he said, prohibit placing “substantial burden” on the exercise of practicing religious belief. Williams said with the church’s request of P1 – a zoning created specifically for larger public institutions and church-related organizations – the city could be found in violation of those laws without showing a “compelling government interest” in denying the proposal.

Several residents, church officials, and Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President Steve Clark all spoke in favor of the proposal. There was no public comment in protest of the plan.

During the final decision, all eight aldermen voted to approve the rezoning.

The new facility will replace the church’s current, overcrowded location about a mile west on Wedington Drive. Plans include a 57,000-square-foot building with a 900-seat main worship center and a 600-space parking lot.