A church is expected to file suit today against the City of Mountain Home, alleging religious discrimination.
The No-Limits Christian Ministries, in its suit filed today in U.S. District Court in Boise, said its First and 14th Amendment rights were violated when the Mountain Home City Council denied approval of a conditional use permit.
NLCM wants to convert a former Salvation Army building into a church and counseling center. Their request has been bouncing between the Mountain Home Planning and Zoning board and the City Council since December.
First, the major sticking point was parking. The building has a maximum occupancy of almost 300 people, but the parking lot only fits 23 vehicles. Mountain Home city officials said the church needs at least 71 spaces. Church officials said their dilemma was fixed by finding shared parking sites across the street.
City officials next said there would be a safety issue with dozens of churchgoers crossing two main traffic arteries. NLCM pastor Clark Williams argued that the arteries pumped little to no traffic on Sunday mornings.
“Initially, the city said, ‘Jump,’ and we said, ‘How high?’” Williams said. “In hindsight, we could have never jumped high enough.”
Representing NLCM, attorney John Mauck cited the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, stating religious institutions cannot be treated “on less than equal terms with a nonreligious institution.”