For the past four years, a church in our area has grown at a phenomenal growth rate-more than 20 percent a year. From a single service in a strip mall, it now offers three Sunday morning services, two Saturday evening services, and a Wednesday night service. Without question the church needs a bigger facility.
Plenty of buildings are available for rent, but here's the problem: repeatedly the city council has refused to give them the "conditional use permit" that would allow them to change locations and hold services in an industrial park, warehouse, or even the old flea market building. Today the church is trying to relocate further down the strip mall into a vacant former box store, but the city has threatened to declare the entire mall as "blighted" and just passed an ordinance whereby "there could be no church located within 25 feet of a liquor store." A liquor store happens to be adjacent to the box store. (Normally ordinances of this type are passed to protect a church not the liquor ...1