Covenant Christian Ministries Church in Marietta, Georgia Continues 5-Year Battle with City Over Zoning Issues and the Right to Expand Their Church

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The pastor of a church that has fought Marietta since 2006 for a permit to build a new facility says city officials have agreed to review the church’s application to build a house of worship and school on Powder Springs Street.

But the zoning department can’t find the $40,000 worth of paperwork, designs, and fees the church submitted with its 2010 application for a special use permit, and the church can’t afford to produce new ones, said Pastor Frederick Anderson of Covenant Christian Ministries.
“Their whole purpose has been to delay us to break us, and that’s what’s happening again,” said Anderson, whose nondenominational, majority-black church and school have operated out of a facility on Fairground Street since 2001.
City attorney Douglas Haynie and Mayor Steve Tumlin both declined to comment this week, saying the case is still in litigation.
Covenant filed a suit against Marietta in 2006 when the city denied it a permit to build an 800-seat church, school and playing field on the 8-acre Powder Springs Street lot that the church contracted to buy for $1.6 million in 2004.
Anderson said the city agreed for the first time to review the application if the church did not appeal a September ruling by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In its September ruling the district court of appeals upheld a lower court ruling that the church has “no vested right” to a permit to build under the city’s zoning ordinance.
The court agreed with the church that the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act in treating its application differently from other nonreligious organizations, and awarded the church $1 in damages.
Anderson said the city has granted building permits to other churches in the five years since Covenant submitted its application and his church is being discriminated against.
“The only religious groups that have difficulty in getting a permit is anyone that differs from the elite groups within the city,” Anderson said.
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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jeffry Scott

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