Between the time when the petitioner-church built its sanctuary and when it sought to build its fellowship hall, the respondent-county imposed new construction restrictions pursuant to its creation of an airport overlay district. However, since (1) the church’s development permit allowed both buildings, (2) the development permit would only expire if no “substantial improvement” occurred within two years, and (3) the church made substantial improvement when it built the sanctuary and the infrastructure for both buildings within two years of the issuance of the development permit, the permit remained in effect when the church was ready to build its fellowship hall.
We reverse the Court of Appeals’ decision, which upheld the county planning commission’s denial of a construction permit for the fellowship hall.
Contrary to the county’s argument, the certificate of compliance, issued when construction of the church was completed, does not state that its issuance serves to close out the development permit. We reject the county’s argument that the certificate of compliance closed out the development permit merely based on “planning department procedure.”
The church’s original development permit remains valid, and the county must issue the church a construction permit for the fellowship hall under the original development permit and plat. The construction permit for the fellowship hall is grandfathered by virtue of the continued validity of the original development permit and is therefore not subject to the airport overlay district ordinance restrictions.
(Few, J.) There is evidence in the record to support the planning commission’s determination the original development permit expired before the church sought a construction permit for the fellowship hall. There is also evidence in the record to support the planning commission’s denial of a new development permit. While the church makes a compelling case for lenience, our standard of review requires we defer to the planning commission.
Grays Hill Baptist Church v. Beaufort County (Lawyers Weekly No. 010-067-20, 11 pp.) (Kaye Hearn, J.) (John Few, J., dissenting) Appealed from Beaufort County (Marvin Dukes, Master-in-Equity) On writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals. H. Fred Kuhn for petitioner; Mary Bass Lohr, Catherine Floeder and Lee Ellis Berlinsky for respondents. S.C. S. Ct.