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A Pennsylvania state court ruled that a local zoning board acted improperly in refusing to allow a church to use a portion of its property for counseling services.

The church sought a permit allowing it to convert a building containing the church offices into a counseling center. The church offered extensive pastoral counseling services to members and non-members alike.

A zoning board denied the church's request on the ground that professional counseling was not a permitted use in a residential district (in which the church was located). The board expressed the view that "the counseling sought to be offered was of a secular nature and not directly related to the church's function."

The church challenged this ruling in court, and won. The court ruled that the church's properties could lawfully be used for counseling since "counseling is an integral part of the church's activities" and therefore was a permissible "church use." Church of the Saviour v. Zoning Hearing Board, 568 A.2d 1336 (Pa. Common. 1989).

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  • May 1, 1990

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