Richmond Hill just got about 30 feet taller, after City Council members unanimously approved Wednesday a request by an architectural group for a variance in the city’s building code to allow an 86-foot bell tower.
The structure will front a new St. Anne Catholic Church, which will be 65-feeet tall, according to Heather Thomas, an architect with the Boudreaux Group of Columbia, S.C.
By contrast, the Speir Brogdon buildling, currently the city’s tallest building, is about 50 feet tall, officials said at Wednesday’s council meeting.
There was some discussion before council members cast their votes.
City attorney Ray Smith suggested the council “remind the church, if the council sees fit to do that, that there might be some height restrictions because of aviation coming out of Fort Stewart.”
He also noted that would be something outside the city’s control.
And council member Van Hunter, wanting to know about fire protection, asked, “What is the maximum height our fire department can reach?”
Council was told Richmond Hill Fire Department currently has a 100-foot-ladder on its truck with a reach of about 75 feet.
The church, located off Highway 144 in a residential zone where buildings are usually restricted to no more than 40 feet, currently has a congregation of about 1,000 families and meets in its assembly hall, Holy Family Hall, according to Father Joseph Wilson, St. Anne pastor.
The new church will face Holy Family Hall on church property.
Work is expected to get under way on the 27,000-square-foot facility able to accommodate 950 worshippers in “the second quarter of 2014,” Smith said.
The project is expected to cost around $8 million, and the church has already raised $3.7 million, he said.