Property Keyed to Rabin
Messiah Baptist Church v. County of Jefferson
In 1974, Messiah Baptist Church (Plaintiff) purchased eighty acres of land in Jefferson County (Defendant). The land was in the A-2 district, zoned for ranching, intensive agriculture, and agriculturally related uses such as dwellings, barns, stables, hatcheries, dairy farms, greenhouses, and the like. The land could not be used for schools, community buildings, or churches. Churches were permitted as a matter of right in 13 of 25 zoning districts. In 1976, the county amended the ordinance to allow churches in the A-2 zone by special-use permit. Plaintiff applied for a permit to build a large facility to be used for worship service, offices, classrooms, athletics, parking lot, and an amphitheater. The planning commission denied the permit because of access problems, erosion hazards, and inadequate fire protection. Plaintiff challenged the zoning as violative of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court upheld the zoning regulations and granted the county summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed.
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