Vision Warriors, Kirk Driskell

The Cherokee County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to consider a rezoning request by Vision Warriors Church, Inc. on March 5. Pictured: Vision Warriors Executive Director Kirk Driskell

A nonprofit that has been at the center of a zoning dispute since May is scheduled to present its rezoning and special use permit requests to the Cherokee County Planning Commission for a public hearing next month.

Vision Warriors Church, Inc., is requesting to rezone its 6.49 acres on Old Country Place in Hickory Flat from residential use to office institutional to continue use as a “dormitory with a primary home, a detached garage, a chapel/assembly hall and a warehouse,” according to county documents. Application documents also show that the dormitory would allow up to 55 residents.

In the application, J. Ethan Underwood, the organization’s attorney, wrote that “the subject property has been utilized since 1982 as a religious institution and since 1983 has either been lawfully under construction for or operated as a dormitory.”

Underwood and Vision Warriors leadership have repeatedly accused the county of revoking multiple permits and allowances to operate a dormitory and addiction ministry as part of its church operations. The organization also says the previous use of the property, Happy Acres ministry, was allowed temporary tenants during its operation.

County zoning staff in June, after an investigation and review, found Vision Warriors in violation of its land use, based on the residential zoning. County Attorney Angela Davis wrote in a June 12 letter that permits issued to the organization were “issued in error,” and that zoning certification letters for Happy Acres Mission Transit Center were also “issued erroneously.”

An order for residents to vacate the property at 1709 Old Country Place was put on hold when Vision Warriors appealed the decision and later submitted an application for rezoning.

Underwood also included in the application a summary of concerns from the required public input meeting on the proposed rezoning. Listed concerns included safety issues, noise considerations, whether the uses will increase traffic, whether the septic system is sufficient for the uses, whether the uses affect property values in the area and whether Vision Warriors plans to sue the county if the application is denied.

Neighbors of the property have been outspoken opponents of the Vision Warriors’ addiction ministry and temporary housing.

The case will undergo a public hearing at 7 p.m. March 5 at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center, 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton.

Thomas is a government, business, crime and features reporter for the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger News. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University and currently lives in Kennesaw, Georgia.

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