New Hope Church provides update on plans

Published 7:55 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

Approval of rezoning request would lead to move to Historic Broyhill Office Suites

Editor’s note: New Hope Presbyterian contacted Jim Buice after the Courier’s print deadline had passed last week. This is a follow-up to accompany his “Harper Road Neighbors display concerns over rezoning proposal” story in last week’s paper.

At the center of the rezoning request from New Hope Presbyterian Church involving Clemmons Gymnastics, which wants to purchase the property — pending approval, and those lined up in opposition against it along Harper Road, is the church itself.
On the docket is a Special Use Limited Rezoning request from property owner New Hope Presbyterian Church, the petitioner — with a project name of F-1626 Clemmons Gymnastics — for existing zoning of RS-40 (residential) to proposed zoning of LB-L (limited business) through the jurisdiction of Forsyth County.
John Lindsay, senior pastor at New Hope, provided an update to where his church stands on future plans and the lengthy process of trying to sell the property on Harper Road.
“We’re not going to close,” Lindsay said. “Our plan is to move our worship services to the Broyhill Center (Historic Broyhill Office Suites on Clemmons Road) at the meeting room there. We’ve secured office space there, so that’s where we plan to have offices and our Sunday worship services. Right now we’re holding that space, but that’s contingent on the building selling.
“The proposed closing date for the property is March 31, so we’d love to be in right after that, but, of course, the closing of the date is contingent on the rezoning going through. If everything goes according to plan, then Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, somewhere in there, would be our first worship services over at the Broyhill.”
However, he added: “If the zoning change isn’t approved, then we will have to remain where we are (at New Hope) and seek another buyer ASAP. We can’t sign a long-term lease with Broyhill until we have something certain. They have been very kind to let us pay and hold the space through March, but they understandingly want a long-term tenant under contract.”
Opponents of the rezoning project have stated that other churches, which could continue on this site with no zoning changes required, have shown interest and made offers to buy the property, but Lindsay said that simply is not true.
“We spent two years pursuing other churches and schools because we were mindful of the zoning issues,” he said. “We were doing that as kind of a ‘for sale by owner.’ None of those contacts panned out, so we decided after two years to retain a real estate agent. Clemmons Gymnastics was the first and only offer that we received, and we signed that contract.
“So if there are talks about other offers, there were not offers that were brought to us before we signed the contract to sell to Clemmons Gymnastics. There might be other interested parties who are saying they’re willing to purchase, but none of them had come to the table. We didn’t have any other offers on the table when we signed the contract.”
Lindsay said that the church, which has been taking “a hands-off approach to zoning,” currently has about 70 members. It is part of the Presbyterian Church of America where each local congregation is responsible for its own government and its own property but is connected with other churches in the same geographic area for the purpose of accountability as well as for common mission.
This rezoning request was originally on the City of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning Board agenda for Feb. 9, but the case was requested to be continued by the petitioner. So unless it’s continued again, this item will next appear on the agenda to be released on Friday, March 3, for the City-County Planning Board meeting on Thursday, March 9.
Staff has already recommended denial for the project, stating: “The vast majority of the uses in that area are residential. So staff doesn’t believe that it is appropriate to introduce commercial zoning along Harper Road when you’re one to one and a half miles away from any other commercial zoning.”
However, regardless of the staff recommendation and Planning Board vote, the final say will come from the elected body — the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.