Indiana News

Council Overrides Rezoning Ordinance Involving Church

12/4/2012

The City-County Council voted Monday to override a rezoning ordinance regarding the Jehovah's Witnesses.

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The Metropolitan Development Commission already approved the rezoning of over five acres of land in the College Park neighborhood to the church to build a worship center.  Residents opposed the rezoning, claiming it would cause traffic and safety issues in the neighborhood.  

Republican Councillor Jeff Miller voted to override the ordinance. "Neighbors have a right to buy a property and expect that the way it is zone is the way it is and the usage is the way it is," Miller said.  "They pay property taxes.  They make the neighborhood what it is and so to tell those neighbors, 'No you need to allow this rezoning and whatever comes about you just have to accept,' does not seem fair to me."  

Supporters of the ordinance, including Democratic Councillor Brian Mahern, claimed denying the rezoning violated the church's constitutional rights.  Jeff Coleman, speaking for the church, said they respect the neighborhood. "We will be good neighbors.  We do serve the community in many ways.  We view it as part of our worship.  So as Jehovah's Witnesses, that's what we do and that's the opportunity we want to have."

The council needed 18 votes to override the ordinance.  The ordiance was overturned by a vote of 19-8.

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