Venice church expansion upsetting to some

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VENICE, FL - Some residents in Venice are up in arms over a potential expansion of a Christian church near where they live. The First Christian Church is trying to get zoning changes for new facilities which could one day include classrooms and a large outdoor pavilion. Neighbors say the impacts are too much.

The church wants to expand on the nine acres they own along Center Road, adding a kitchen, fellowship space for up to 200, youth rooms, and some classrooms -- potentially allowing high school students from a small Christian school nearby. As part of their future site plan they've also included a more than 5,000 square foot open air pavilion. In the past the church has held services and festivals outside.

Despite an eight foot high wall, neighbors have complained about the noise.

Those like Marcy Burth are concerned new buildings will look down over the wall and the music will be happening more and more. "We would like them to be able to develop their property. We would like the pavilion to be take off the table. We would like to be assured there would be no second story on their multipurpose facility."

Pastor David Miller says the outside pavilion is a long range plan. He says the church would only be using it a few a times a year. He says the school kids would have little impact walking from the other school. "We in no way, shape, or form want to come off as cold and callous and we don't care. We want to come along side out neighbors and we want to be good neighbors. We also have a very clear calling of what we would like to get accomplished."

The church currently worships with what they call a more classic rock sound. Some who live directly behind the church say they can already here the music from inside.

There is going to be a meeting for all involved tonight at the church beginning at 7pm. The expansion plans are supposed to go before the county's planning board for the second time in November.