Hunt Valley Baptist Church sues Baltimore County after expansion denial
HUNT VALLEY, Md. (WBFF) - An ongoing zoning battle between a Baltimore County church and its rural community has taken another turn, as the church is suing Baltimore County and the Board of Appeals in federal court.
The Hunt Valley Baptist Church, which has sought for several years to grow its facility on 16.6 acres on Worthington Heights Parkway, announced Thursday it is challenging the county's zoning regulations.
The Board of Appeals voted last year to deny the church's application to build on the property. The church is now claiming the board's denial "was based on its flawed view that a church that has a fellowship hall/gymnasium is 'inconsistent with the spirit and intent of the Baltimore County Zoning regulations,'" according to a press release about the suit.
“Equal treatment of all religious institutions is a cornerstone of our constitutional traditions,” said Roman P. Storzer, attorney for the church, in the release. “We are confident that the protections of religious exercise that exist under federal and state law will allow Hunt Valley Baptist Church to minister to its members and the community at large in the manner that they believe is necessary.”
In July of 2016, the Valleys Planning Council was glad when the Board of Appeals overturned a special exception regarding the church, posting on its website that "the scenic property is preserved."
"This is a huge victory for the community who worked tirelessly with VPC to oppose the proposed 30,000 square foot mage church on the RC 4 (Resource Conservation/Watershed Protection) zoned property," posted the Valleys Planning Council on its website at the time. "We are grateful to our members and friends who provided financial support, attended hearings, testified and/or helped to successfully fight this large scale institutional use in the rural area."