Fourth congregation sues Baltimore County over land use rules

Fourth congregation sues Baltimore County over land use rules

COCKEYSVILLE, Md. (WBFF) - A fourth congregation has filed a lawsuit against Baltimore County, claiming the county's land-use rules limit religions practice.

Attorney Roman Storzer has been behind all the suits, which included Hunt Valley Baptist Church, ARIEL Russian Community Synagogue in Stevenson and Jesus Christ is the Answer Ministries Inc., in Pikesville.

The latest congregation is the Hunt Valley Presbyterian Church, off of Beaver Dam Road near I-83.

The suit, filed Dec. 13 in U.S. District Court, says the county's "burdensome and discriminatory land use regulation... has required the Church to limit its ministry in ways that restrict the free exercise of its religious beliefs and practices."

The church said it was trying to build a facility on Beaver Dam Road, but the county's Board of Appeals required the church to give two days' notice of any unscheduled activities to area residents, who "oppose the expansion," according to the lawsuit.

The board also required the church to give "such opponents" 48 hours notice of all scheduled services and events, and "forced the Church to space out its two Sunday services so there is one hour and fifteen minutes to one and a half hours between the end of one service and the beginning of the next," according to the suit.

The county also "imposed another condition regarding water runoff that is essentially impossible to comply with," said the suit.

Baltimore County spokesperson Ellen Kobler responded in a statement that the county will defend what it calls "a full-frontal attack on the county's zoning and development processes."

"We cannot comment on the specific case because we have not yet seen the complaint. Baltimore County now has four lawsuits that portray it as hostile to religious worship. Nothing could be further from truth," said Kobler in the statement.

"Current data shows that we have 599 houses of worship in the county. It is a shame that these disputes over development issues are now being used as part of a full-frontal attack on the county’s zoning and development processes. The county will defend this suit and defend its zoning and development process," the statement continued.

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