Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County to Lift Limits on Churches

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County to Lift Limits on Churches

Article excerpt

MIDDLEBURG -- Clay County church leaders are leaving nothing to

chance.

Pastors and churchgoers plan to attend Tuesday's County

Commission meeting to hear commissioners vote on a land use

amendment lifting restrictions on the size and location of

church facilities.

Although commissioners have promised to approve the amendment

-- and apologized for adopting the controversial restrictions in

May in the first place -- church leaders said they want to be

there to ensure they follow through.

"We want no limits on the churches. It was alarming," said Bob

Hart, co-leader of a countywide group of church leaders and

pastors who opposed the restrictions. "It is the right of

churches to do the work of the church. . . . It was a damaging,

dangerous policy."

The group met this week with commissioners and other county

officials to discuss the church zoning issue. At that meeting,

Commissioner George Bush reassured group members that, despite

the commission's "mistake," churches have nothing to fear from

the board.

"We are not in the business of running God out of Clay County.

We are in the business of encouraging good moral fibers for

young people and adults," he said. "We are here to do the work

of the people and allow you folks to do the work of the Lord."

On May 26, the commission restricted the size and location of

churches, child-care centers and other community facilities

planned for residential areas.

The regulations prohibited churches more than 3,500 square feet

from locating on neighborhood roads, defined as those designed

to serve the needs of residential areas, rather than collect

traffic from one place and transport it to another place.

About 90 percent of the roads in Clay County are neighborhood

roads.

The restriction was designed to preserve the integrity of

established residential areas by not allowing large developments

within their borders that would drastically increase traffic and

noise. …

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