Construction for New Church in Anhui Halted Due to Delayed Permits

By Grace Zhi, December 28, 2017 03:12 AM

The congregation of Binhe Church attended a service in a makeshift bungalow on the Double Ninth Festival of 2017.

Blueprint of the new church building.

Last year, the new building for Christian Church in Binhe District, Guanzhen Township, Lixin County was suspended while laying the foundation. The church was told to resume the project after resubmitting relevant permits. However, one year has gone by and the situation is the same. They still haven't managed to get all the permits.

The church grew from a rented house in 2005. Due to limited space and safety issues, the church later rented land with a permit from the local Bureau of Civil and Religious Affairs and built a temporary place for meetings.

In less than half a year the number of the congregation grew from 100 to nearly 400, so it considered building a new church. In May 2015, the land was levied by the government and the house demolished. Once again, the church was in a tight spot with no place to worship.

After negotiation with the local government, the church was granted 6 mu (4,000㎡) of land. The church put up a similar house and prepared to build a new church.

"At first, we were told to start the construction and worry about paperwork later. However, during the foundation laying, Urban Management And Law Enforcement said otherwise," said Preacher Ru, a person in charge of the church. So in the latter half of 2016, he set about submitting all kinds of applications.

Ru was still optimistic in the beginning of 2017, saying that the local Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had already approved the project and the paperwork was expected to pass this year or early next.

The approval document of November 2016 states that the new building covers an area of 6.3 mu (4,200㎡) with a total footprint of 7,190㎡. The total estimated cost was 6.38 million yuan ($970,342)

On Sep. 12, 2017, after endlessly going back and forth between the Ministry of Land and Recourses and the Bureau of Municipal and Rural Construction, the church finally acquired the "Site Designation Memorandum" issued by the county's Housing and Urban-Rural Construction Committee.

Yet the Land Use Certificate was delayed, according to Ru. In response, they had redesigned the project and to build a landmark church to hold 1,500 people. The land was reduced to 5 mu (3,333 ㎡) with a total height of no more than 12 meters.

This made things rather difficult for the church because they couldn't meet the height requirement of the Urban and Rural Planning Bureau. It means the two years of effort was wasted and all of their ready-to-use permits need to be reissued.

At the time, the local committee simply required a landmark building and any concrete plan would be in accordance with the church, so the church already spent over 100,000 yuan in designing and changed the drawings three times per the government's request, said Preacher Ru.

With a cross on top of the building, the church is 38-meters tall, according to the design.

Ru believes that the current simple building has severe safety issues and expects the timely permits to build a new church.

-Translated by Grace Hubl

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