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Eye On Boise

Church, city settle zoning lawsuit

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho (AP) — The city of Mountain Home has agreed to let a church hold worship services at a local building after church leaders sued, saying its parishioners had been discriminated against. No Limits Christian Ministries sued in federal court late last month, saying that the city's zoning rules violated the U.S. Constitution because they specifically barred religious groups but allowed other clubs and organizations. The church had sought a conditional permit to allow it to worship in a vacant building it owned, but the city originally denied the church's request.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge approved a settlement between the city and the church that recognizes the church as a "permitted use" of the property and allows it to begin holding services in the Main Street building; click below for more.

"We are gratified by the City Council's prompt and proper action to correct the injustice," Pastor Clark Williams said in a prepared statement. "We are thankful to God that we are allowed to worship, and do welcome the members of the community to join us for worship this Sunday."

In its lawsuit, the church said the city's zoning rules violated the Religious Land Use and Institutional Law Use Act of 2000, which was created in part to prevent zoning and historic landmark laws from substantially interfering with the religious exercise of a person or assembly.

Mountain Home Mayor Tom Rist said he and the city council were unaware of the federal act. Mountain Home's zoning rules were the same as many other communities in Idaho, he said, requiring churches to get a conditional permit.

The city and church both agreed to continue to work toward a settlement of the federal case as part of the court order.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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