To the editor,
In the Nov. 5 council meeting, the city manager Forrest Neuerburg and city attorney Michael Trujillo proposed ordinance 720 which would prohibit new and expanding religious institutions from all commercial zones. This includes all of the downtown area and most of the Highway 160 corridor through town. I feel this is a threat to our constitutional right of freedom of religion. Some ramifications of this ordinance that need to be brought to light.
This ordinance would affect all religions and religious institutions - not just Christianity.
Religious groups would be prohibited from occupying vacant church buildings in the commercial zones. As stated by City Manager Forrest Neuerburg, “Zoning is attached to the land, not the building.”
This ordinance would prohibit expansion of existing churches in the affected zones. If a church wanted to demolish a “blight” house to expand their parking or expand a building, they would not be allowed to.
If passed the only zone you would be able to have a religious institution would be a residential zone and those zones are subject to off-street parking rules. How many residences in Monte Vista are large enough to handle 20-30 people and have 7-10 off-street parking spaces?
This ordinance will choke religious activity in Monte Vista by creating barriers to new religious works and preventing existing enterprises from expanding.
City ordinances must be passed twice to become law. The ordinance was passed the first time Nov. 5 with councilors Martha Lock, Victor Sigala and Mayor Dale Becker voting for the prohibition. It will be voted on again on the Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at Monte Vista City Hall.
Pastor Larry J Foster
Councilor, City of Monte Vista