Wilson County and Local Church Navigate Dispute Over Construction Permits


On Friday, the Wilson County Planning Commission unanimously approved Pastor Greg Locke’s site plan for Global Vision Bible Church in the hopes of resolving a lawsuit, the latest chapter in an emotive local battle.

Wilson County has filed a complaint alleging that the church began construction on its campus at 2060 Old Lebanon Dirt Road without first obtaining site plan approval, building permits, and land disturbance permits. Meanwhile, Locke received a lot of attention for his extreme right-wing political beliefs and a mass deliverance ministry that focused on driving out bad spirits and organizing events like urging people to burn artifacts associated with witchcraft and the occult.

As worshipers and neighbors spoke for and against the controversial church, a meeting chamber at the Wilson County Courthouse with 121 seats was filled.

“Our team is committed to cooperating and collaborating with all stakeholders on this matter,” Global Vision Bible Church Associate Pastor Jesse Jones told the planning committee.

“We simply seek a fair opportunity to pursue this project just like any other organization would.” Several homeowners who live near Global Vision expressed concerns to planning commissioners about the church being an aggressive neighbor, including heavy traffic from huge events, stormwater runoff, and noise.

“So far what have they done, what have they abided by?” Wilson County Commissioner Bobby Franklin, whose district does not encompass Global Vision, spoke to planning commissioners.

Congregants of Global Vision defended their church from accusations that it is not a nice neighbor. They described life changes for many of the attendees. One speaker apologized for the struggle Global Vision has had with neighbors, while another stated that the church wishes “to do what is right.”

Locke did not attend the planning commission meeting because he was out of town, Jones stated. The site plan approval came after many postponements by the planning commission dating back to last year to provide Global Vision and Project Engineer Alejandro Mojico enough time to address outstanding difficulties.

According to Wilson County Planning Director Tom Brashear, revisions addressed several unsolved stormwater issues. Three detention ponds are now part of the plan to keep runoff on the site.

According to discussions during the conference, the county has no power over noise. The permission contains timelines for stamp-approved plans, pre-conference meetings, and permits, all within six months, and construction completion in twelve months. Any changes to the plan must be submitted back to the commission for review.

“I’m glad they put in the timeline,” remarked adjacent resident Laura Bilbrey following the meeting. According to Wilson County Attorney Mike Jennings, the case will stay pending with the site plan approval unless action is taken to go forward. “If the church implements and adheres to the plan, the lawsuit will most likely go away,” Jennings noted.

Global Vision has also been cited by the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office for issues unrelated to the county’s action and litigation. Snowfall in January also damaged the huge tent used by Global Vision for services and activities.

The church is still working with the state to address such problems. “We’re trying to (implement measures) that I can’t speak on … so we can reduce the sound, we can reduce the traffic …” Jones stated. “We’re trying to work things out because we want to be good neighbors.”

“We want to be the examples that Christ called us to be.”

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