The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 20, 2013

City hopes to keep pastor and flock

De-annex request denied

By Jean Cole

— Hoping to keep a pastor and his flock from leaving the city proper, Athens Planning Commission members denied their request to de-annex.

The move dumbfounded Damon Betts, pastor of Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church at 14204 Lucas Ferry Road. He and his congregants want to rezone the property they purchased at the extreme southwest portion of the city so they can expand their church by building a family life center.

Discouraged by the estimated three to four months it could take to rezone, Betts decided to see about de-annexing from the city instead.

City Planner Mac Martin asked the commission to reject the request. He said under city law de-annexation should be granted only if it serves a public good. Martin does not believe the request meets that requirement.  He said the city has both building and zoning codes which “would be applied to any expansion to these facilities.”