Supervisor Ole Olsen used a biblical reference in deciding the fate of the Johnsville church during a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors April 2. "I don't presume to have the wisdom of Solomon," Olsen read from a prepared statement. "I am attempting to resolve a problem that has divided this small community at a time when the whole world is in turmoil."
At issue is whether the Johnsville church, as it is commonly referred to even though it hasn't been used for worship since 1913, should be used as a meeting place.
The supervisors listened to arguments for and against using the church as a place of assembly, and considered four options presented by the county's Planning Department.
During his remarks, Supervisor Olsen read a letter from Tom Long's eldest daughter, which reaffirmed her late father's wish that the Johnsville church become a meeting place.
Olsen said he knew the senior Longs and they would never have done anything "to hurt or disrupt the community." "They looked forward to seeing the old church restored and used as a place Johnsville could call a community center," he said.
Olsen asked that the Historical Society be given two years to use the church as a gathering place. Then at the end of that time, its impact on the community could be assessed.
His fellow supervisors agreed with Olsen's recommendation, but before the church can be used, a special use permit must be issued.
During that process conditions will be set to control how and when the church is used. Those opposed to the church's use will have a chance to share specific concerns such as types of use and hours of operation.