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Neighbors sue church over micro home village planned for people experiencing homelessness

Aug 15 2017
Posted by: Staff
Neighbors sue church over  micro home village planned for people experiencing homelessness

By: Amelia Ferrell Knisely

Two dozen neighbors in the Glencliff area have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to bar the construction of a micro home village that would house people experiencing homelessness. 

The micro home village, dubbed The Village at Glencliff, is a project of Open Table Nashville with Glencliff United Methodist Church. The village of 22 homes would sit on the church’s property at 2901 Glencliff Road. 

Since OTN made the project public last year, neighbors around the proposed village have contended that the project was not properly publicly vetted, pushed on church members, and would ultimately lower the safety and value of their neighborhood.

The Board of Zoning Appeals in May voted 5-2 to uphold Metro Zoning Administrator Bill Herbert’s opinion that the building permit for the village was protected under the Religious Freedom Act. Applying the act to the property allowed the nonprofit and church to circumvent local zoning regulations. 

Neighbors are asking the court to reverse the decision in a lawsuit filed in Davidson County Chancery Court against the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals, Glencliff United Methodist Church, the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Nashville area’s United Methodist Bishop William McAlilly.

Attorney Andrew Preston with Buerger, Moseley & Carson PLC said he will be responding to the lawsuit on behalf of Glencliff United Methodist Church, the Tennessee Conference and Bishop McAlilly. 

In a statement to News Channel 5, Preston said, “Lack of housing is a very serious issue in Nashville and the church has decided to answer the biblical call to love our neighbor by providing safe and supportive shelter to some of our city’s most vulnerable. Glencliff United Methodist Church, the Tennessee Conference and our Bishop remain committed to this project, and we are optimistic that the court will agree with the Zoning Administrator and the Board of Zoning Appeals that this exercise of the church’s religious beliefs is protected by federal and state law.”

The micro home village would provide transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness in Nashville. The homes – 200 and 400 square feet – will include electricity, running water, a kitchen and a bathroom. Residents will be some of Nashville’s most vulnerable on the streets, according to OTN Director Ingrid McIntyre, who explained that the eligibility will be identified by OTN using its standard intake form. McIntyre previously told residents during a community meeting that a security officer will patrol the micro home village at night and the area will include two campus safety polls.  

 


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