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Zoning Variances for Churches

Court rules zoning board needs to attempt to accommodate zoning requests.

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Key point. In some states the courts use greater flexibility in evaluating zoning requests by churches, and attempt to "accommodate" such requests.

A New York court ruled that a church was entitled to a "variance" permitting it to use property for religious purposes even though there were fewer parking spaces than mandated by zoning law. A church purchased property and applied for a building permit to authorize construction of a new sanctuary. Its application was denied by a local zoning board on the ground that the proposed facility had less than 50 percent of the required number of parking spaces mandated by local zoning law. The church asked for a "variance" (or exception) from the law on the ground that many of its members were transported to church services on the church's vans, and as a result there was not a need for the legally required number of parking spaces. The zoning ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 1996

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