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Road access to churches

Rionagh

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
We're working with a community who recently amended their ordinance to require not only a certain lot width for churches and that they have access to a major or collector street, but specifically that the entire lot width requirement be along the major or collector street. In other words, they require the entire 200 feet of lot width to be located along and adjacent to the right-of-way of that street. Reasoning is that this allows for better access management opportunities for driveway spacing, etc.

Looking to see if anyone knows of any other ordinances or requirements that are similar or have a specific requirement for a certain lot width for churches to be along a major or collector road?

Thanks,
Rionagh
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
At my former job we did in a real round about way. Lot width, frontage, road class were considered for all uses and regulated through the creation of different land use and road/street categories/designations in the Plan and a series of policies for how the roads and land use designations worked. The fine tuning was done through the zoning By-law.

So for an example we required that churches be located within the IN zone (plus a few commercial zones). The Plan subsequently requires that properties within the IN zone be located in such a manner to provide access to specific classes of roads. So if a rezoning is required to allow for a church we would examine the hierarchy of roads the property was on or located in proximity to plus site size and other characteristics.

Hope that was clear and helps, your legislative framework may vary.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Read the RLIUPA before you enact these laws (Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act). The RLIUPA is federal intrusion into local land use at its worst.

One piece of advice. When you get sued by a church for violating RLIUPA, you will certainly lose if you allow other public gathering uses (schools, Elks, Odd Fellows, playhouses) with lower standards than churches. If you require a church to meet stricter standards than other similar uses, that is a de facto discrimination against a religious institution. Get out your checkbook and be ready to pay for their legal costs after you have lost the lawsuit.

Even if your rules are equal to a non-church use, you stand a good chance of losing the lawsuit.

If there have been court cases in the past year that change this, let me know. I haven't done and RLIUPA work for a year.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,927
Points
40
Wulf beat me to replying....watch out for RLUIPA....for more info (and a slanted viewpoint) see www.rluipa.org
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
The main problems with RLIUPA is that the city is assumed to be guilty at the outset and that churches are encouraged by the law to sue the cities and recover costs of the suit.

I've held this quiz before. What portion of the Consitution was used as a basis for RLIUPA? That is to say, what Constitutionally protected right is being protected by giving churches an exemption from zoning?
 

Rionagh

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
More info...

Wulf9 said:
One piece of advice. When you get sued by a church for violating RLIUPA, you will certainly lose if you allow other public gathering uses (schools, Elks, Odd Fellows, playhouses) with lower standards than churches. If you require a church to meet stricter standards than other similar uses, that is a de facto discrimination against a religious institution. Get out your checkbook and be ready to pay for their legal costs after you have lost the lawsuit.

Even if your rules are equal to a non-church use, you stand a good chance of losing the lawsuit.

If there have been court cases in the past year that change this, let me know. I haven't done and RLIUPA work for a year.
Yes, I'm actually doing the research for a local community where there is already a lawsuit in progress by a 'church' which has been denied zoning approval. We know that RLIUPA will be the major issue in the court case. One basis for the community's defense is the argument that the particular piece of land doesn't meet the requirement for frontage of the entire lot width requirement (200' in this case) along a major or arterial road, so we've been looking to see if other communities have this type of requirement. I've found many who have a lot width requirement for churches and many who require access to a major or arterial road, but so far, not any others who specifically require that the entire lot width needs to be along the major or arterial...

Deb
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
NHPlanner said:
Wulf beat me to replying....watch out for RLUIPA....for more info (and a slanted viewpoint) see www.rluipa.org
Reading the cases on that site reconfirms that religion is quite a mafia like org and the seperation between church and state is very narrow.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,287
Points
29
RLUIPA Cases

Two of the main cases relating to RLUIPA and equal restriction provisions were in your state:

Grand Haven MI
Ann Arbor MI
 

BS Planner

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Rionagh said:
We're working with a community who recently amended their ordinance to require not only a certain lot width for churches and that they have access to a major or collector street, but specifically that the entire lot width requirement be along the major or collector street. In other words, they require the entire 200 feet of lot width to be located along and adjacent to the right-of-way of that street. Reasoning is that this allows for better access management opportunities for driveway spacing, etc.

Looking to see if anyone knows of any other ordinances or requirements that are similar or have a specific requirement for a certain lot width for churches to be along a major or collector road?

Thanks,
Rionagh
It seems to me that from a land use perspective this is bad policy. If you require churches to have direct access to a "major" street or have the full width of their property on a "major" street, it could force them into areas where the highest and best use is commercial. Remember, churches do not pay property taxes and do not directly or indirectly generate significant sales taxes for the community. Depending on the size of the church, you may not want them in the middle of a residential area, but in most cases, they probably wouldn't over burden the street network, because they don't operate during any peak traffic hours. We have churches on two of the best pieces of property in our city and I wish they would just go away. If they relocated here in town to a more appropriate area, fine! If they moved out of town, no huge loss!
 
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