An expansion of the Bluffton United Methodist Church that would nearly double its seating capacity could begin next month.
Designs for the expansion were approved by the town of Bluffton in June, and a site plan reviewed Tuesday is nearing approval, according to Andy Harper, an architect with Court Atkins Architects.
The expansion would add two wings and about 170 seats to the church, he said.
A final development plan needs approval from the town's Development Review Committee. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control must also give final approval for the project, a process that typically takes about 30 days, Harper said.
On Tuesday, the Development Review Committee was mostly concerned about a proposed 16-space parking lot across Allen Street on the site of the Graves House, which is scheduled to be moved next week.
The parking lot would need a landscaped island because no more than eight spaces can be grouped together without being separated, senior planner Erin Schumacher said. Bicycle parking is also needed for every 15 car spaces, she said.
The parking lot would be required to have a natural buffer between it and the street, and a path connecting to the church, Schumacher said. Amenities such as benches along the buffer would be required, as well.
The committee also asked the church to consider installing rain gardens to collect stormwater.
Harper said Cogun Construction, which will build the expansion, is still determining the construction timeline and cost.
Expansion approval has taken nearly two years so far.
In February, the town's Historic Preservation Commission was concerned about the size of the expansion. The church responded by reducing the length of a proposed new wing from 60 feet to 38 feet, which led to the design's approval in spring.
The expansion will also include offices and meeting space on the Graves House site. However, plans for a new building are still conceptual, Harper said.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.