City unjustly zones out Fla. church

ADF-allied attorney available for comment each day of trial
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Attorney sound bite:  Joseph Infranco

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Daniel P. Dalton
WHAT: Available for media interviews immediately following the conclusion of each day of the bench trial in Church of Our Savior v. The City of Jacksonville Beach
WHEN: Sept. 17-19; trial begins each day at 9 a.m. EDT
WHERE: Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 10(c), 300 N. Hogan St., Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Daniel P. Dalton will be available for media interviews immediately following the conclusion of each day of a bench trial in a lawsuit filed by a church against the city of Jacksonville Beach. The city twice denied the church a property permit because city officials prefer that the church property be used for some other purpose.

In August, the court denied the city’s motion to dismiss the case. The trial before the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida will take place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

“A city’s zoning restrictions shouldn’t single out churches for discrimination. Federal law prohibits the city from abusing its zoning regulations to shut down existing religious community services just because the city wants to have a building used for other purposes,” said Dalton, of the Michigan firm Dalton & Tomich PLC. Dalton is litigating the case together with ADF-allied attorney Charles L. Stambaugh of the Jacksonville firm Stambaugh & Associates, P.A.

The church filed the lawsuit Church of Our Savior v. The City of Jacksonville Beach in October 2013, explaining that its freedoms have been violated under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits zoning discrimination on the basis of religion.

In March 2013, Church of Our Savior, formerly known as Resurrection Anglican Church, applied for a permit to build a church on property it purchased to accommodate its growing membership. Although the Department of Planning and Development verified that the church met all of the city’s mandated standards, the Planning Commission denied the permit, claiming “the church was not consistent with the character of the neighborhood.” The church submitted a second application in September 2013, but the commission denied it on the same grounds.

“We trust the court will rule in favor of the church and allow it to occupy its property,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco. “Church of Our Savior should be allowed to build its church so it can fulfill its mission and continue to serve its community.”

  • Fact sheet: Church of Our Savior v. The City of Jacksonville Beach

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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