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Old Church, New Bar: Good Fences Might Make Good Neighbors in Chapel Hill

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CHAPEL HILL — Neighbors not getting along with neighbors is nothing new. InChapel Hill, an old church and a new bar will have to put aside their moral differences to get along.

Developers want to put a new bar beside a church on Henderson Street in Chapel Hill. The biggest problem concerns an entertainment patio that would come just a few feet from the church.

Many church leaders are questioning whether the 'Chapel' part of Chapel Hill is still important.

ManyUNCstudents say University Presbyterian Church is their sanctuary. It is a quiet place for them to practice their talents, pray or study.

But, developers plan to build a bar next to the church. The plans include an outdoor entertainment patio that would end a few feet from the church building and about 25 feet from the church day care center.

The situation concerns the students.

"Especially since the whole wall over there is windows. It will be right up against those windows, and it also overlooks the playground. That concerns me a little bit because there are children there a lot of the time," said student Jessica Tate.

Pastor Bob Dunham says he is not anti-bar. He is just against a bar that would come so close that it could interfere with church business.

"With our meeting space right here, our students gathering right up there particularly when the weather is nice and the windows are open, our concern is that it is going to be disruptive and that we are going to have a difficult time maintaining the kind of program we've had before," said Dunham.

The students are hoping for a compromise.

"I'd love for them to be able to make that a nice restaurant, but I just don't think they need the outside space that close to the church," said Tate.

The developers are two Wilmington attorneys. The town manager says they only have to turn in their final site plans before construction can begin.