A local mega-church’s plan to fill in most of a pond along Richmond Road got the approval of the Lexington Planning Commission Thursday, despite a recommendation from the city’s planning department to postpone that part of the project.vSouthland Christian Church is building a new campus at the site of the former Lexington Mall.
Because of escalating construction costs, project manager Craig Avery says Southland needs to fill part of the pond to make room for another commercial parcel.
“One of the good things that we will have here, a side benefit, is that we are going to be generating a lot more traffic on the property of people just coming in and being curious about what’s happening there. So there are all kinds of ways to look at it. It’s certainly not what we would prefer to do, but it’s what we think we have to do.”
Nearby residents in the Idle Hour neighborhood had opposed the proposal because of flooding concerns, but officials with Lexington’s Division of Water Quality say the pond does not affect the area’s ongoing storm water and sewer problems.
Church representatives say although the redesigned water feature will be significantly smaller, it will hold 45 percent more water than the current pond. Southland attorney Darby Turner says the church will spend about $750,000 to clean up the water feature.
“The pond itself has got about a foot of water in it. It’s almost completely full of sediment.”
Southland plans to have the new church completed by next January