Downtown’s ‘Old Library’ to become a church

Published 8:32 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Old Library in downtown Bainbridge

The Old Library in downtown Bainbridge

“The Old Library” in downtown Bainbridge will become a new church, as the Bainbridge City Council approved a conditional use request from its owner.

Leslie Harrell, wife of businessman Mike Harrell, owns the brick building at 200 W. Broughton Street which was formerly the site of a library. Most recently, the building had been rented out for private functions and its downstairs was used for a photography studio, Mr. Harrell told the City Council Tuesday night.

The Harrells are part of Riverpointe Ministries, a church congregation which is in the process of forming and plans to meet in The Old Library building now that the City Council has granted its permission.

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In voting 3-1 to recommend approval of the conditional use request, the Bainbridge Planning Commission had proposed setting a condition that use of the building as a church be limited to Sundays only, due to its location in the city’s central business district.

According to Councilman Luther Conyers, Planning Commission member Dustin Dowdy had cast his ‘no’ vote based on what he perceived as ambiguous wording of the conditional use request, which specifically mentioned “Sunday use” not putting pressure on downtown parking.

However, the City Council ultimately decided not to place a restriction on the days that church members could meet in the building. Mr. Harrell said that although there were no concrete plans as yet, he “could foresee” a potential for Wednesday night activities such as Bible study and worship, as well as youth activities to be held at other times.

Following a motion made by City Councilwoman Glennie Bench, the City Council did elect to place a late-hours curfew on the use of the property.

Bench cited the Council’s decision last year to set a closing time of 10 p.m. for The Outer Limits, a family entertainment center located at the intersection of Florida Street and Broughton Street downtown.

City officials had placed that closing time based on a concern that the Outer Limits, just a block west of The Old Library, was at the edge of a residential section of downtown.

Harrell said he had no problem with the council placing the late-night curfew, as he said any youth activities would be supervised and family-oriented.

There was some discussion of whether the church would have adequate parking. Councilman Conyers said he believed that in addition to a shared lot behind the property, surrounding institutional parking—such as at a bank and the Decatur County administration office—would be more than enough.