Pickerington Times-Sun

Grace Fellowship

Church's donation kept water flowing for 80 Pickerington households

By MICHAEL HAYES
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About 80 Pickerington households averted water service disruption after the holidays because of a $10,000 donation from Grace Fellowship Church.

Pickerington City Council passed a resolution Dec. 18 by a 6-0 vote to allow for the city to accept the donation from Grace Fellowship.

The resolution was on City Council's "consent agenda" which means it didn't have to undergo three separate readings before passage.

Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance said the city received the money more than two weeks ago.

"The city of Pickerington officially received the $10,000 Grace Fellowship Church utility bill donation the week of Jan. 7," said Vance, who added all the money was utilized for the purpose of assisting those in need.

He said Grace Fellowship's donation "blessed approximately 80 households whose city utility accounts were past due and facing temporary discontinuation for non-payment."

Vance said monetary assistance was distributed by the city utility clerks, who "utilized information included on the city's monthly utility cut-off lists to then apply (the) resources to cover past utility debts."

Vance said the legislation to "legally accept this donation was created by the city's law director in accordance with established city codes regarding how Pickerington is to receive donations."

Everett Pitts, building team leader for Grace Fellowship Church, said fellow members of the church donated the money out of funds from the church's December offering.

"Some money went to a mission in Kenya, $10,000 went to the city of Pickerington to pay on delinquent water bills," Pitts said.

"That pretty much caught the people that are struggling up (on their bills)," he said.

Pitts said Grace Fellowship Church remains committed to Pickerington.

"We are pretty entrenched with Pickerington in trying to stay involved with the city."

Grace Fellowship is in the process of constructing a 32,500 square-foot church at 1449 Refugee Road, west of the Pickerington Police Station.

Grace Fellowship currently holds its services at Pickerington High School Central while the new church is being built.

Jan. 8, Pitts appeared before the Pickerington Planning and Zoning Commission to seek a waiver to a city zoning standard which would require the church to install 3- to 5-foot earthen mounds along Refugee Road.

The Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to waive the requirement by a 5-0 vote.

Pitts said Grace Fellowship requested the landscape waiver in part because of the possibility Refugee Road will be widened to five lanes to accommodate the future OhioHealth Medical Center.

Vance said Grace Fellowship's utility donation had no nexus to the Planning and Zoning Commission's approval of the landscape waiver.

He said approval for the Refugee Road site was more than two years ago.

Vance said the Jan. 8 approval of the landscape waiver was "ancillary" in nature and "standard for churches in Pickerington."

"The donation kept 80 households with water and was representative of an annual Grace Fellowship tradition of community giving," Vance said.

"I, as Pickerington's city manager, have no issues with the donation," he said.

Pitts said the only application that remains to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission is for signs.

He said the new church is planned to be open "tentatively around Halloween time, that's kind of our projected date, the Fall of 2013."

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