Saturday, December 02, 2006

Settlement In Zoning Case Lets Illinois Mission Stay Downtown

A consent decree signed by an Illinois federal judge on Thursday ends a dispute between the city of Waukegan and a downtown storefront church, God's Hand Extended Mercy Mission. (See prior posting.) Last July, the city's Department of Planning & Zoning issued an order declaring that the church (which offers prayer, food and shelter to the disadvantaged) was in violation of zoning provisions barring "places of worship (and) religious organizations" from business districts. Sister Callie Dupree, founder of the mission, sued claiming that the city's zoning rules violate the mission's free exercise and equal protection rights. The Lake County (IL) News-Sun today reports that the parties' have now agreed that the mission can stay, and that the property on which it is located will not be rezoned in the future. In exchange, the church agreed not to seek damages from the city for violating its free exercise rights. [Thanks to Tom Ciesielka for the lead.]