Farragut residents upset about church's expansion plans

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Knoxville (WVLT) It's a group homeowners versus the largest church in Knox County. Residents of at least four Farragut neighborhoods continue expressing their outrage about First Baptist Concord's expansion plans.

Tuesday night, they shared their frustration with those who ultimately will decide whether or not to give the plan the green light.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy was there.

The Metropolitan Planning Commission's already given the church the go-ahead to starting building it's new student center. That'll be on it's current campus. They say they told the MPC they don't want their backyards to become what they call "an industrial complex."

"I'm fighting mad," neighbor Bob Kuszynski said.

A Knox County mega church....

"It's not all bad," ministry support administrator Dale Collins said.

...raising mega concerns from nearby residents.

"We are very much upset. It's sickening," Kuszynski said.

On one side...residents of the Bellaire, Glen Abbey, Shiloh, and Darby Chase Farragut communities.

"What it amounts to is they picked the smallest community to build the biggest church," Kuszynski said.

On one side...members of that church....First Baptist Concord.

"We're trying to be honest and straight forward," Collins said.

The more than 8-thousand member church on Kingston Pike has already gotten the OK to start building a new student center. That's part of a proposed $37.5 million expansion. The two-phase plan includes...three new buildings....more than 500 more parking spaces...and an athletic complex.

"It's not our intent to tear up our own neighborhood, but when you do construction or expansions it'll cause homeowners to have concerns," Collins said.

Those homeowners live right next door to the church. The concerns...

"The safety, the noise, we're going to lose our seclusion," Kuszynski said.

"Kingston Pike is dangerous enough as it is. With traffic coming and going into the ball fields, people coming in and out, it's going to make a major problem. Someone will get killed," neighbor David Fitz said.

The church already owns all the colored property..including land into the subdivision. It says the current campus is busting at the seams.

"We've quadrupled in size. We don't have adequate parking. We haven't built education space in 27 years," Collins said.

But neighbors worry the church will just run them out entirely.

"There's no end to this. There's no end to this," Kuszynski said.

They say their fight...isn't over.

Nothing was voted on Tuesday night. It was just workshop for the MPC to hear concerns and see the master plan as it is now.

First Baptist Concord still must to get for permits to build anything else. The church expects to apply for the next set of permits in the next 90 days, but the most controversial part of the project is the eastward expansion into the Bellaire Subdivision.

The church it'll apply for those permits around 2011.