Monday, March 19, 2018

Church Prevails in Land Use Dispute

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles, World News


Salvation Temple Church can move into a shuttered banquet hall even though the city’s zoning law prohibits new religious institutions from opening on commercial and industrial property.

The church and city approved a consent judgment that says the former Stephenson House, 25000 N. Chrysler Drive, can be used as a place of worship but the property will stay zoned for business.

“The church is thrilled and thankful this over,” said Daniel P. Dalton, the church’s attorney. “They have a lot of work to do before they move in, like electrical work, plumbing, drywall, paint and carpet. They’re going to turn it into a contemporary church.”

After it was denied a zoning variance in March, Salvation Temple sued Hazel Park in federal court, alleging the city violated its rights to freedom of speech, assembly, exercise of religion and equal protection. The consent judgment signed Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Marianne O. Battani resolves the claim and closes the case.

City Manager Ed Klobucher said it didn’t make economic sense for Hazel Park to fight the lawsuit because the property in dispute is an isolated, triangular parcel of land in the area of I-75, Stephenson Highway and I-696.

“We will defend our right to zone our property,” Klobucher said. “We’d like to see someone bring jobs and pay taxes. If this land was in the middle of the downtown we would have taken a different approach but in this case there was no upside to winning. This property is in a unique location and it would be difficult for anyone to have a have a going commercial concern.”

Dalton agreed, saying, “It’s hard to think of anything else going on that property except for a banquet hall, but the last one failed.”

Hazel Park officials would rather see the 19,000-square foot building vacant since 2002 be brought up to code rather than stand empty and possibly deteriorate to the point where it has to be demolished at the city’s expense.

“Based on further review, there was no economic benefit for the city even if we were successful in court,” Klobucher said. “ The church wants to be part of our community. They’re going to renovate the building and they’re going to pay the back taxes owed before it becomes a tax-exempt property.”

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