A religious description lawsuit was reopened against Anne Arundel by a Christian church which charges the county for denying a settlement to allow the church to build a school in rural community. The church’s move are supported by the evidence which clearly shows the county’s discriminatory treatment against the church.
According to the church officials, Riverdale Baptist, headquartered in Prince George’s County, has planned to set up a 92,000-square-foot private school for its Arundel Bay Christian Academy that is presently operating in cramped modular building in the Lothian Bristol neighbourhood.
Site of the new school was supposed to be at a miles distance away from the current school and situated amongst the horse farms.
In the past two years, Maryland witnessed several incidents of local government’s discrimination against churches. Prince George’s county paid $3.8 million earlier this year for denying a water system upgrade to a desired location. Calvert County was sued by a church for religious discrimination against its planning methods. In another case a Baltimore County zoning code prohibited a church from building a massive sign.
In 2005, Anne Arundel had changed the zoning and denied permits for the school twice. A
Riverdale Baptist attorney Rob Showers charges that although other projects in the area have moved forward, the school was not given an approval. he feels its is clear from the county’s actions that they are acting in a discriminatory manner.
Anne Arundel officials and the church had hammered a deal which would was supposed to allow an exemption to the Riverdale Baptist, however this needed the permission from the County Council. County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson had guaranteed an approval for the school.
The church started expending funds for engineering and designing of the school on the basis of repeated assurance by the attorney. However, after a month the council rejected the deal under the grounds that the school would pose environmental problems for the nearby Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary and generate perilous traffic on the neighboring windy roads.
County Attorney Hodgson denies giving any concrete assurance. However, he had tried to convince the council to support the settlement to avoid loss of multi-million dollar if the case is unsuccessful in court. Hodgson accuses that clearly the decision was nothing but church’s attempt to shift the responsibility of the present situation onto others.