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Appellate court upholds verdict against Prince George's County

A federal appeals court this week upheld a $3.7 million verdict against Prince George's County that arose out of a discrimination claim filed by a church.

The case involves Reaching Hearts International, a Seventh-day Adventist church that claimed the county unfairly tried to thwart its plans to build a sanctuary on a 17-acre parcel in Laurel. In its lawsuit, the church argued that officials used zoning regulations "to keep African American churches out of" the county.

The case has wended its way through the courts. A federal jury sided with the church in April 2008. That fall, U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus affirmed the jury's verdict. This week a panel of the appellate court upheld Titus's opinion.

In his ruling, Titus cited the Constitution and the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. That statute allows religious organizations to overcome local zoning and development rules if the government agency imposing them cannot show a compelling reason for any restrictions that burden religious practices.

In 2002, the church bought the Laurel parcel with plans to build a sanctuary. The Prince George's County council approved a zoning change that would have allowed the church to connect to public water and sewer lines, but later reconsidered and rejected the change after receiving comments from council member Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel), who represents the area, according to the lawsuit.

County Spokesman John Erzen said officials "are currently reviewing the ruling and considering all of our options."

-- Maria Glod


By Maria Glod  |  March 4, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Maria Glod , Pr. George's , Updates  
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Comments

[church officials argued that zoning regulations were used] "to keep African American churches out of" the county.
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That anyone would buy this argument in a majority black county is beyond hilarious. Now blacks are racists toward other blacks. It all gets funnier and funnier. Bwaaaahaaaaaaaa

Posted by: checkered1 | March 4, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I personally feel Prince Georges County tries to keep white people out. Lets hear the percentage of white churches vs black churches in PG County. Maybe they should use all that land to build a jail to keep all the PG county thugs in. I forgot that would mean that PG County police would have to actually lock someone up and if that actually happens they will just get a slap on the wrist once in court. I wonder what this church is going to spend this money on??? Hopefully, something to benefit the community. I doubt it but we shall see.

Posted by: nickatnight69 | March 4, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

American churches out of" the county.
==========================================
That anyone would buy this argument in a majority black county is beyond hilarious. Now blacks are racists toward other blacks. It all gets funnier and funnier. Bwaaaahaaaaaaaa

Posted by: checkered1 | March 4, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I personally feel Prince Georges County tries to keep white people out. Lets hear the percentage of white churches vs black churches in PG County. Maybe they should use all that land to build a jail to keep all the PG county thugs in. I forgot that would mean that PG County police would have to actually lock someone up and if that actually happens they will just get a slap on the wrist once in court. I wonder what this church is going to spend this money on??? Hopefully, something to benefit the community. I doubt it but we shall see.

Posted by: nickatnight69 | March 4, 2010 2:05 PM |


And the two typical rednecks of the WP chime in. Hey there is an article about some white boys doing donuts on the football field. Why dont you two go to that article and complain about how a black guy would get a slap on the wrist for doing the same thing. The poor white man is always being picked on in your worlds. You guys are a couple of loser slackers looking for someone else to blame for you being such losers. Yes, blame the black race for your problems slackers.

Posted by: ged0386 | March 4, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that the lil folk got theirs against the political machine

Posted by: blackman1 | March 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

And the two typical rednecks of the WP chime in. Hey there is an article about some white boys doing donuts on the football field. Why dont you two go to that article and complain about how a black guy would get a slap on the wrist for doing the same thing. The poor white man is always being picked on in your worlds. You guys are a couple of loser slackers looking for someone else to blame for you being such losers. Yes, blame the black race for your problems slackers.

What a racist remark! I believe "redneck" would be equivalent to the "n" word. But calling someone a name referring to their race would only be racist if the comment comes out of a white person's mouth. I didnt see any pictures of the kids that did donuts in the field but I guess you are "assuming" they are white. I would call that profiling! I am definately not looking to blame "anyone" for my problems I am a successful white women that owns my own business in PG County where i am the "minority". If you actually read the article you would see that its laughable that a church can sue because they feel they were discrimated against when the county they are in is one of the richest black counties in the United States. Prince Georges County is 63% black. Tell me how many "white" churces there are in good ole PG County? Oh sorry white people cant advertise all "white" church because that would be "racist"! How about black owned & black operated is that racist? Just asking! As far as being a loser I think you may need to get that GED. I am sure there are plenty of free programs available to "YOU" !

Posted by: nickatnight69 | March 5, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

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