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Religious Land Use

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,890
Points
38
Not exactly my favorite topic, but my community is beginning to look at the issues related to religious institutions in residential areas. Our community is approximately 80% Agricultural/Residential zoning, and churches are currently permitted in the zone.

Issues have been raised about impacts of religious land use and residential land use. Throw on top of this the RLUIPA act of 2000 (and the session I attended at APA in Chicago on the subject)...and I have a lovely situation to deal with.

I oversaw a workshop meeting last night, flushing out all of the issues, concerns, and comments.

My question to the Cyburbanites is this: How many of you have regulations regulating religious uses? What types of things are regulated? Do you find that most are issues that are addressed at a site plan review level, or through zoning?

Any feedback is appreciated! This looks like a few months of workshops before we actually get to writing anything, so I figured I'd get a head start on any ideas that may be out there.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
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34
Zoning for The Big Man

We have an Instituional overlay zoning district - the only place churches are allowed by right. We haven't had a new church for quite some time, but any new location would require a rezoning and comprehensive plan amendment - neither are easy to come by.

Is that the conference session you attended instead of mine?!
:(
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
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Re: Zoning for The Big Man

bturk wrote:
Is that the conference session you attended instead of mine?!
:(
That would be it. :)

It was soooooooooo much fun too!
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Religious Zoning

Well, being in the "bible belt" we "don't care" where churches locate- they are permitted in any zoning district in this town.

Kinda makes my tummy hurt-
 

Bullwinkle

Cyburbian
Messages
176
Points
7
We allow a church as a conditional use in all zoning districts. Schools, include parochial schools, are regulated differently. They are restricted to the Civic/Institutional zones. We define a church as: " A structure or portion of a structure used for the purpose of worship by any religious organization exempt as such from Federal income tax." They have to meet all of the same development standards for stormwater management, etc. that any other commercial or institutional use does.

That has worked well for us. The one new church in the past few years wasn't in a very dense residential area, but they were required to screen their parking lot from the (relatively) nearby residences. It is a nice site and the neighbors seem happy.

What is the issue in NH? Are folks concerned about church-operated soup kitchens, methadone clinics, and homes for wayward girls? I don't remember your beautiful community having those demographics. Or is Tax-achusetts shipping their problems north?
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
Churches and Schools are both allowed in our Res and Ag zones, but potential conflicts with neighbors are dealt with through the site review process. However, we're in a moderately affluent suburb, so we don't have the methadone and wayward girl problems. ok, maybe just not the methadone.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Churches

We used to require a Conditional Use Permit for churches. We typically looked at parking, fire code, building code, and those types of issues.

Since the recent court cases and legislation, we have stopped requiring a Use Permit. They still have to meet building, fire, parking requirements, but our City attorney feels that the Conditional Use Permit process is potentially illegal for churches.

Our big area for churches: Industrial parks. Land costs are high, there is very limited vacant land, and every little sect wants its own separate church. So, they go to industrial tilt-up buildings.
 
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