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Isn't it better to have a mega church in an industrial area as opposed to sprawling in a dense residential area? When I worked for the city, I processed church waivers and expansions all the time. It was one of the bigger headache sources for me because I knew that every time I recommended denial, the City Council would overrule. There is no such thing as separation of church and state because the ministers in this town literally have the City Council by its balls.
I would say they are just trying to protect the few remaining larger industrial areas, especially in the area where the Church is proposing to locate. I am sure there are other places in the City where they would love to see this church locate.
It just seems to me that Churches think that they are the highest and best use possible for any parcel of land, anywhere in any City. When someone tells them otherwise, they use the old "the City is anti-church" line and threaten to sue.
I think all Church leaders should be requred to take a class on zoning, land use, and city budgeting before they can be officially ordained.
The pastors and church reps that I dealt with always had the same story - this neighborhood NEEDS a church; it will reduce crime; it's economic development, etc. etc. Some of the neighborhoods would already have 2 and 3 churches within a 1-2 block walking radius of each other - some on the same blockface. This means that they are either competing for the same residents of that neighborhood or people are coming in from other neighborhoods. The latter necessitates more parking and these areas barely have on-street parking available. I can go on but I'm sure you see the point.
One thing I always wanted to research but never had the time or resources at the city is whether there is a correlation between the presence of a church or churches in these neighborhoods and the crime rate.
Had a church apply for a special use. They want to have a auditorium and banquet hall, day care center, computer technology center, private elementary school, fitness center, and athletic field. Yi Gads!