In a case that is being called 'important,' one Jacksonville Beach church wins a longstanding battle for permission to build a new house of worship on land it owns. After nearly two years of back and forth battling the church can finally continue plans for its new home.
Even though the church legally owns the land it wished to build on, the property was zoned residential and, therefore, the church was denied the proper permit to break ground. The church had applied for the permit two times before finally taking legal action. In 2014, a district court ruled on the side of the church stating it felt the church's rights had been violated as outlined in the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. This act protects places of worship from being discriminated against and is why the court sided with the Florida church.
Upon the favorable ruling, the city appealed the court's decision when residents in the area protested against rezoning the property because they believed it would lower their home's value. This again sent the church to court battling for its rights. The Benket Fund for Religious Liberty teamed with the Florida church to help fight the appeal. After many failed attempts to mediate between the city and the church officials, the Becket Fund announced that they had reached a settlement, and the church would be allowed to build.
This announcement marks the end of a two year battle for a church's right to build on property it owns. It is being called an important victory for religious communities wanting to construct new homes of worship.
If you are facing your own battle over real estate or are concerned with how a change in zoning may affect you, speaking to a trusted real estate attorney may help.
Source: The Blaze, "Church Wins Major Land Battle Against Florida City ? and the Case Is Being Called 'Important'," Billy Hollowell, Oct. 6, 2015