Church Claims "Unequal Treatment" In Lawsuit Against Canton Vill

Church Claims "Unequal Treatment" In Lawsuit Against Canton Village

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The Christian Fellowship Center church is suing the village of Canton.

The lawsuit was filed Monday before a village planning board meeting held that night, a board meeting where the church was told it can't hold services in the building it purchased. 

For weeks the church has been trying to the green light to open a church in Canton's former Club restaurant. A few weeks ago, the church was rejected by Canton's zoning board of appeals which said the retail commercial area on Court Street is not zoned for churches.

Church leaders tried again Monday night by asking the planning board for a special exception.

"Some of the allowed exceptions we could do," planning board chair Barry Walch said, "but this is not one of them."

"Would like to motion that we don't allow the application," board member Charles Rouse said.

Planning board members unanimously voted down a special exception citing similar decisions made by the county planning board and the village's zoning board.

"Sorry to say that's what happened," Walch said.

However, before the board made its decision, Christian Fellowship Center pastor Rick Sinclair said the church had filed a lawsuit against the village "in response to the village's unequal treatment of religious assemblies." 

The church claims the zoning laws go against federal protections of church rights.

The church has officially purchased the former restaurant for $310,000.

Sinclair says the church officials plan to keep pushing to use the building as a church. 

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