October 31, 2014

Motion hearing in federal case of church versus township adjourned

File photo
Alger Bible Baptist Church's complaint against Moffatt Township alleges the township has violated a federal religious land use law.
Posted

BAY CITY — A federal court case involving the Alger Bible Baptist Church and Moffatt Township was adjourned until Jan. 21 at 2:30 p.m.

The church and township were originally slated for a motion hearing in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Northern Division in Bay City Dec. 19. The church filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, and the township filed a motion to dismiss the church’s complaint.

The church filed a complaint in August alleging the township violated a federal law titled the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act when the township turned down a request to rezone a property the church wished to purchase in order to relocate the church.

According to a copy of the complaint, since July 2012, the church has been attempting to purchase a parcel at 2030 M-76 in Alger with the intent to relocate the church there. The complaint said the church’s current location is in a rental property located at 1464 Joy Street in Alger.

Alger Bible Baptist pastor Tony Garrisi said in the complaint that because the church is located on a rental property, it is difficult to get maintenance and repairs done. Garrisi also said in the complaint that the current location has a shortage of space, which hampers the church’s ability to attract new parishioners.

Attorney Daniel P. White, who represents the township, told the Independent in November that the district where the church wants to relocate is in a zoning district called a highway commercial district, where churches are not prohibited.

An attempt to have the property rezoned as a forested district was denied by the township’s planning commission July 15.

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