By Holly Fesperman Lee
The congregation of Dunns Mountain Baptist Church hopes to realize a dream that church members have been talking about for 10 years.
But it’s unclear whether their plan for a day-care center and preschool will be approved by the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen.
The church applied for an amendment to the zoning ordinance that, if approved, would grant a conditional use for the day-care center in the residential area.
About 10 people showed up at the June 4 public hearing to oppose the idea, most citing concerns over sewer and water services, according to Granite Quarry Town Clerk Becky Shives.
Aldermen put off a decision about the church’s application to gather more information.
The Rev. Bill Little said the idea stemmed from a consulting group that visited the church to talk to the congregation about renovation options.
He said the church was built in 1956 and “it’s in disrepair and needs to be renovated.”
The day care came up as a way to grow the church and hopefully add new members to the congregation while building a bridge to the community for ministry, Little said.
“You see the need is great around us,” he said.
According to Cam Downing, executive director of Smart Start Rowan, about 300 more child-care spots are needed in Rowan County.
“There’s 4,300 spaces and about 4,700 children,” she said.
Also, 47 percent of Rowan County children under the age of 5 live in a home where both parents work.
About 47 percent of all child-care centers and homes in the county are considered four or five star.
Dunns Mountain wants to add its planned facility to that list.
“We took it to the church for a vote,” said Wayne Eller, a church member.
That vote came in 54 to 33 in favor of going forward with the day care and preschool.
“The new facility would really support the concept that our leaders developed to help grow our church,” Eller said.
“We feel strongly that it’s a viable idea and it will work,” Little said.
He explained that many people don’t come to church as they used to and having a day-care center is a good way to go where the people are.
“We just feel like this is something that God is calling us to do,” he said.
If approved, the 22,000- square-foot building would go up behind the existing church and include classroom facilities and a gym.
Little added that it would also be set up for a disaster relief shelter with showers and small kitchen.
Little also said the church was not going to seek water and sewer from SalisburyRowan Utilities. Running a line from N.C. 52 to the church would be cost prohibitive, he said.
If the day care and preschool become a reality, the church plans to start out with four classes for 3- and 4-year- olds and two classes for nursery age children.
One of their primary goals is to provide affordable childcare for community members, but they haven’t discussed weekly rates yet.
The center will open with whatever number of children the church can pre-enroll, but the goal is to be at 80 percent capacity with about 80 to 100 children.
The church also plans to open the gym for community groups to use.
“That’s a primary goal,” Little said.
The building would also be used for the church’s upcoming Awanas youth program.
Church members plan to go ahead with Awanas even if the building project isn’t approved.
Becky Vodochodsky, a church member, explained that the preschool would operate on a Montessori curriculum.
Ages 3 through 5 would be grouped together and students would work in learning stations at their own pace.
In this curriculum, Vodochodsky said children are encouraged to help one another learn the material.
“It’s a concept of learning by doing,” Eller said.
The preschool would also be Christian-based.
Little said the church, as a Christian organization, didn’t feel right about doing anything without including ministry.
Little and congregants acknowledge that risks are involved, but “we are called to be risk takers in God’s kingdom,” he said.
The church also plans to work for accreditation from the Association of Christian Schools International and obtain a five star child care center rating.
“We want this to be the best and most used facility in the community,” Little said.
Aldermen are expected to make a decision on whether or not to amend the zoning ordinance at their July 2 meeting.
No other public hearings on the matter are scheduled, but meetings always include a time for public comment. All citizens are encouraged to speak about matters that interest them at that time.
Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Holly Fesperman Lee