(Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship)
There are 28 square miles in Riverside County, California where Churches and worship centers are banned. Hotels, resorts, restaurants, conference centers, and even wedding chapels can be built there, just not churches or synagogues.
Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship bought land and built a worship center located in the ‘Temecula Wine Country’ before the current zoning restrictions. Not only have churches now been banned from the Wine Country community but ‘Calvary Wine Country,’ as the church is now called, has weathered at least one legal effort to get them kicked out of their own property. Also their growing congregation needs a larger facility but the county will not give them approval to expand on their own property without legal action. Here’s the story from Charisma News:
Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship filed a complaint in federal court against the County of Riverside, California, based on the United States Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act of 2000. …
"This is a classic case for the federal religious land use law that protects churches and requires that zoning authorities treat religious assemblies on equal terms to other nonreligious assemblies,"
said Robert Tyler, managing partner of Tyler & Bursch, LLP and counsel for Calvary Wine Country. He further commented,
"Calvary Wine Country has long desired to just be a good neighbor, to work cooperatively with the county and to provide a place of worship for the thousands of residents that live in the Wine Country."
<Read the whole article>
Response: Make no mistake, this is not just a problem in California, churches are being zoned out of many cities across America. We have addressed this issue on numerous occasions. Churches are having a difficult time getting approval to build on land in many different cities and states. In several instances churches have even had their property taken away from them through eminent domain. In one case so a Costco could build a store on it. In another case, a church agreed to pay a California city $20,000/mo. to offset the loss of tax revenue and to receive city permission to build on their property. A terrible precedence. Zoning has even been used on a number of occasions to shut down home Bible study groups in California and in Arizona.
Churches used to be looked upon as a necessary cultural and moral asset for society but now increasingly local authorities are more concerned about their tax base and the lack of potential revenue coming from worship centers.
In South Orange County CA where I lived for nearly 30 years, churches have had a difficult time finding property and getting permission to build. These were originally ‘planned communities’ that only provided a few lots for mainline denominations to build on. The majority of congregations there are still worshiping in rented halls, schools, or warehouses. There is no official ban against churches like Riverside has in wine country but nevertheless it is nearly impossible to get property rezoned for churches.
Recently a friend of mine was celebrating on Facebook that after 25 years his church in South Orange County had finally received permission by the city to build on their own property. *Top
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