Officials from Harborside Christian Church said they plan to build a 220-seat wedding chapel on their property, located just off McMullen Booth Road in Safety Harbor.
The facility would be constructed in an empty clearing on the southwest portion of the property and feature the chapel itself as well as landscaped grounds.
“Harborside is beginning the process and is planning to build a wedding chapel on our property,” church official Dean McSpadden told the City Commission on March 7.
“We’re beginning the process of requesting approval for a site plan modification, and we thought we’d give you an opportunity to let you see what it looks like.”
McSpadden then played a short video that featured a digital architectural rendering of the chapel and grounds.
The clip depicted a large main building painted all white and flanked by walkways, palm trees, benches, flowerbeds and rows of shrubs.
McSpadden said the current plan is for a 7,000-square-foot facility that would seat 220 people.
Currently, there is no timetable for the construction, or completion, of the facility, according to McSpadden.
In related news, the church petitioned the city later in the meeting to amend the use agreement allowing them to use the recently constructed shared access drive on Good Friday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in order to alleviate traffic in the parking lot on those days.
The gates of the throughway, which connects the back parking area of the church with the intersection of Marshall Street and Green Springs Drive, are only allowed to be open during certain hours and days, per the use agreement between the church and the city.
Safety Harbor officials said they had no problem allowing the road to be open for two of the biggest holidays on the Christian calendar, as long as the concession doesn’t lead to more special requests in the future.
“I guess my only question is, are there any additional dates?” Mayor Andy Steingold asked McSpadden. “Because I got some blowback, just because I live in the area…and I don’t want it to be a situation where we continue to expand and expand and expand over time.”
“I know you showed us the video earlier, and I think it’s great you guys are expanding, you guys are growing, and I think it’s awesome. But I’ve got neighbors I’ve got to respond to as well.”
McSpadden said he didn’t foresee any further need to expand the use of the drive, even with the future construction of the wedding chapel.
“We included Christmas Day just to try to make sure that we had all of the activities (covered),” he told the commission. “I don’t know that will be an occasion that we would need to use the driveway, but just to be safe, we included it.”
“And definitely when the wedding chapel is built, we wouldn’t ask for the gate to be open during a wedding, or a funeral” he added. “It would be similar use to the church itself.”
Ultimately, the commission voted in favor of the amendment by a count of 5-0.
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