The legal wrangling over a proposal to build a church on Greensboro Road in Hanover came to a head Tuesday in Grafton County Superior Court as lawsuits brought by neighbors and by the church had their final hearings.
Hanover Zoning Director Robert Houseman said decisions in the cases could come in the next month.
Hanover’s Zoning Board originally denied a building application to leaders of the Christ Redeemer Church, but on appeal allowed the church project to go forward.
The board, which originally was concerned about traffic and changes to the residential neighborhood, last year gave approval for Christ Redeemer to build a new 13,000-square-foot church complex. The church, which holds Sunday services in space it rents at Hanover High School, was founded in 2000 by Texas minister Don Willeman.
The church has taken the town to court over the approval, which limits attendance and activities that can go on at the church.
The board’s approval limits the number of people inside the church to 300, and the number of cars allowed in the parking lot to 113.
The church also is limited from starting services before 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, with all activity ending at 9 p.m. There are exceptions for Christmas and Christmas Eve services. Use of the church complex is also limited to church groups or functions, and Christ Redeemer cannot host sports teams or Boy Scout troops as it initially planned.
The church, represented by attorney Michael Tierney, claims the Zoning Board’s decision is unconstitutional and violates the town’s own zoning ordinance.
“It is arbitrary and unlawful and a substantial burden to impose an occupancy limitation based on the board member’s subjective feelings instead of the explicit requirements of the ordinance,” the lawsuit states.
At the same time as the church is suing, Greensboro Road residents Jeff and Lara Acker are also suing, saying the project should never have been approved. The Ackers claim the town erred in allowing the project, as the traffic it will create will be significant.
“Based on the ZBA’s findings, there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the Applicant has demonstrated that the Project will not have any adverse impact on the surrounding area or the highways and sidewalks and use thereof located in the area,” the Ackers’ lawsuit states.