North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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January 9, 2013

Kimberly council turns down request to rezone former supermarket

Bank wants to sell property to Church 29:11

(Continued)

KIMBERLY —

Before the council meeting, Kimberly residents received a flyer through the mail opposing the request by a group called “Citizen's Coalition for a Better Kimberly, Alabama.” The flyer did not list a physical return address, nor name anyone associated with the group. After the meeting some supporters of the rezoning request accused another church in Kimberly from the same denomination as Church 29:11 of sending the flyer. Hand stressed that those supporters were not members of Church 29:11, and that he did not beleve another church was behind the flyer.

(Church 29:11 is affiliated with the Church of God, one of several fellowships using that name who differentiate themselves in part by the location of their headquarters. This denomination is headquartered in Cleveland, Tenn.)

Sawyer cited the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA, as a reason not to oppose the church moving to the property. The key part of the act bars zoning law restrictions on churches’ use of their property. It was enacted by Congress in 2000.

After the meeting, Sawyer said his bank will “keep all our options open.”

In other business, the council added a new zoning classification called “agri-tourism,” designed primarily to give The Hitchin’ Post further ability to host events such as last year’s Warrior Dash.

[Edited at 2:05 to correct the name of the organization which sent the opposition flyer to Kimberly residents. Edited at 2:40 to reflect that rezoning supporters who accused another church of being behind an opposition mailer were not members of Church 29:11, and that Pastor Hand does not believe another church was involved in the opposition to the rezoning request.]

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