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Church Parking Lots and Zoning Law

Court rules that a church's planned parking lot would violate zoning law.

• The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that a church could not create a parking lot on land located across the street from the church. A Baptist church purchased land across the street from the church building in order to expand its parking facilities. Neighboring landowners complained that such a use of the property was not permitted by local zoning law. A local zoning board ruled in favor of the church. It reasoned that churches were permitted uses in the area in question, and that a church parking lot should be permitted as an "accessory use" by a church. The neighbors appealed to a state appeals court, which reversed the decision of the zoning board and prohibited the church from establishing the parking lot. The case was then appealed to the state supreme court, which agreed with the appeals court that the parking lot should not be allowed. The court noted that the local zoning ordinance ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • March 2, 1992