Hawaii church heads to court in federal land use case

Posted: Friday, August 02, 2002

HONOLULU (AP) -- A church is asking a federal judge to let members continue worshipping on agriculturally zoned property while its religious liberty lawsuit against Maui County is pending.

Hale O Kaula, affiliated with the Living Word Fellowship, is suing under the federal Religious Land Use Act of 2000, aided by the Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

The Maui Planning Commission twice denied the church's application for a special use permit to hold religious meetings on agricultural land. Attorneys said agriculture is a key part of the church's tradition, which teaches children ''stewardship of the land.''

The religious group's attorneys said the federal law requires towns to show a compelling interest, such as public safety, before denying a religious group's zoning request. The county challenges the constitutionality of that law, though the Justice Department has intervened in the case to defend it.

A county attorney argued there was a ''compelling public interest'' in denying the permit because the property lacks adequate water supply and road maintenance. The church said it is willing to meet infrastructure requirements.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us