Structures to see the ax

After approval from the town Historic Preservation Commission, Beaufort First Baptist Church officials hope to demolish several structures to make way for a parking lot expansion. (Dean-Paul Stephens photo)

BEAUFORT — A proposed expansion to the Beaufort First Baptist Church parking lot received the go-ahead from the town’s Historic Preservation Commission during its Tuesday evening regular session at the Broad Street train depot.

“This case, tonight, is a new one for the commission,” commission Chairperson Robert Terwilliger said before the board ultimately approved the certificate of appropriateness.

The request for the COA entails a number of projects, including the demolition of existing structures at 308, 312 and 314 Ann Street.

“Some of you may know it better as the First Baptist Church parking lot,” Beaufort Planning and Inspections Director Kyle Garner said.

Tuesday’s meeting was not the first time the HPC granted a COA for the parking lot. In 2010, officials approved signage to specify the parking lot’s entrances and exits.

Current plans call for changing the lot into a privately run, paid parking lot. During Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Garner emphasized that church officials, not town staff, will be overseeing the use of the lot.

“If this is approved as a parking lot for the church, there (needs to) be some type of signage in the future that identifies this as the Baptist church’s paved parking area and not the town of Beaufort,” Mr. Garner said.

While the existing parking lot is located at 308 Ann St., the structures, one of which is a home constructed sometime in the 1970s, are located at 314 and 312 Ann St. The other structure is an outdoor picnic area.

Darden Eure, of New Bern-based MBF Architects, spoke with commissioners about the project. The Baptist church hired the firm to design the new parking lot and oversee demolition.

After some deliberation, Mr. Terwilliger said he didn’t feel the house was much of a contributing structure to the historic district. He did express concern over some of the large trees in the area, however, and asked to confirm if plans called for removing the trees while demolishing the nearby house. 

Mr. Eure said that wouldn’t be the case. According to current plans, there are five large trees and a number of smaller trees lining the planned parking lot.

The plans also do not include lighting.

“There is no light,” Mr. Terwilliger said. “Are there any concerns from your part that there aren’t even low level lighting for people walking from the parking lot?”

Mr. Eure said there aren’t any lighting concerns.

“Essentially we are using the same lighting that is available now,” he said.

Mr. Terwilliger said the board would need to listen to the concerns of the adjacent homeowners.

Neighbor and Commissioner Marianna Hollinshed spoke.

“I’m speaking as a private citizen and adjacent property owner of a historic house located to the west of the proposed house for demolition,” Ms. Hollinshed said. “In my mind, a vacant house sitting there is a safety concern. It’s also a concern for the church. I, as an adjacent property owner, have no qualms about having the house removed.”

Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.

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