By ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
CANTON – The village Zoning Board of Appeals will convene Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m. in the village courtroom, 61 Main St., to discuss and possibly act on request by the Christian Fellowship Center to use the property at 25 Court St. for professional office space.
The church was denied an office space use permit by code enforcer Jeffrey Murray in January. Murray’s denial is based on village zoning code which does not allow churches or religious organizations in the municipality’s C1 commercial zone where the property is located.The CFC has recently launched a lawsuit against the village over the denial of a use permit to hold religious services at the 25 Court St. building formerly known as The Club restaurant. A denial of that use permit was handed down by Murray for the same zoning reason in January and subsequently upheld by the ZBA when the church asked them for a reinterpretation of village code.
The village is represented by Clifton Park attorney Gregg Johnson of Johnson & Laws LLC. Chicago legal firm Mauck & Baker LLC is representing the CFC in the matter.
Read more about the firms here.
The CFC bought the property for $310,000 at the beginning of January without securing any kind of use permit for the site and before receiving the ZBA’s decision. The ZBA’s support of Murray’s first denial was based on the village zoning code and the determination under federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that the church was not being treated as less than equal to another organization or individual seeking use permits in the village.
The ZBA’s deliberations pointed out that other organizations and persons would also have to follow established village zoning laws to obtain use permits.
The C1 zone is a relatively compact area in the village’s downtown business district and was set up seemingly to concentrate commercial businesses in one area. Several other zones in the village do allow churches and religious organizations