Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Zoning Accommodation For Homeless Construction Is Upheld

In Ward v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee(TN App., April 17, 2019), a Tennessee state appeals court upheld a local zoning decision granting an accommodate to property owned by a church on which it would build 22 micro-homes to house the homeless. As summarized by the court:
Appellants argue that the development should be subject to the zoning laws and procedures because the development would be constructed, owned, and operated by a lessee of the property that was not a religious institution or assembly or otherwise exercising religion and, consequently, applying the zoning laws to the development would not adversely affect the church’s exercise of religion.
The court held, however:
Given the nature of the project, the lease arrangement between Open Table and GUMC [Glencliff United Methodist Church] does not negate the protection that the statutes provide to GUMC; the project is born out of a common, religiously motivated desire to help the homeless, a cause that is recognized by the church as part of its core mission. Thus, it is entirely appropriate for GUMC to apply for and receive the accommodation allowed by the statutes.