Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christians Right?

Efforts to block the opening of a LGBT community center at last nights city council meeting relied almost entirely on religious arguments. Homosexual activity is immoral, the bible says this or that, the end is near etc.... were just some of the arguments offered by members of the public to try to put a stop to the center. But the issue before the city council was not whether homosexuality is right or wrong but whether to approve a conditional use permit. The permit requirement is used by city officials to try to ensure that permit seekers will genuflect (keeping with the religious theme) to the council and promise to cut the grass, paint the exterior etc...

While Christians are certainly free to view homosexuality as sin, in this case they should be careful what they wish for. I recall not to long ago that a Christian church opening was delayed and nearly prevented by this very same permit requirement. Mayor Becker and the city had hopes for condo development along the river and they used the permit requirment to try to block the project. Requiring a conditional use permit was wrong then and it is wrong now.

Christians and gays should work together to protect private property rights and allow the legal use of property to proceed without government or public interference.


Greg Helding said...

"Requiring a conditional use permit was wrong then and it is wrong now."

I know your political philosophy runs counter to this way of doing things, but this is all part of zoning. Zoning is how a municipality does its best to balance all the needs of its citizens. You probably do not want a steel foundary next to a bunch of single family homes, nor would you want a large shopping center in the middle of a neighborhood with narrow streets. The city attempts to allow uses where they work the best and have the least impact on their neighbors.

The entire city is zoned. Some zoning districts permit some uses by right, others by conditional use, and forbid others. This center, or the church, could have located in any number of locations that did not require a conditional use permit.

Denis Navratil said...

It is true Greg that I am not a big fan of zoning, but the lgbt center and the church issue seemed to me more than zoning issues. Either they were/are zoned for the proposed use of the building or they were not. It should be clearly stated in the ordinances and any building use not in accordance with the zoning should apply for a zoning change. I am not sure if that is what happened in these cases. Rather, it seems as if these conditional use permits, within the proper zone, are used by the city to shelve a project or to extract promises etc... that really should not be any of the city's business. IMHO, opening a business or a meeting place or whatever should not be subject to review by the city, so long as it is zoned for the proposed use.

Denis Navratil said...

Greg, along these lines, I recall sitting in on a city planning commission meeting (I think you were on the committee) where a woman wanted to open a resale store on Douglas. The poor woman had to agree to all sorts of signage changes, landscaping modifications, even agreements about her hours of operation, etc... for property that she was planning to rent. I don't know what happened to her but I would not be the least bit surprised if she said the hell with it and opened her business elsewhere or not at all because she was looking at major $ to be in compliance with the city. Do you ever wonder Greg if your requirements discourage people from opening businesses?