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Commissioners: law permits assembly hall in commercial park PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joe Awad   
Thursday, November 15, 2012 9:08 PM

Hamilton County commissioners Wednesday, Nov. 14, overturned a decision by the county’s Rural Zoning Board that now paves the way for Jehovah’s Witnesses to build an assembly hall and worship center in the Harrison Township/Harrison Joint Economic Development District, wedged between Simonson and Dry Fork roads in the township.

A unanimous vote was required to overturn the county’s rural zoning board’s decision, made this past summer. The RZB said the assembly hall was not suited for the 165-acre Harrison Commerce Park because it would produce no jobs, income tax revenue, or property tax revenue for the township, city, county or state.

Moreover, the majority of RZB members agreed with township trustees, city officials, and JEDD business owners that a worship center of any kind would thwart or kill business growth in the industrial park, that weekly weekend assemblies would create a traffic cluster on Dry Fork Road, and that the religious-based group would spend little money in the area.

In essence, the RZB denied structural zoning modifications that stopped the project in its tracks.

On Wednesday, township attorney William Keating argued that JEDD state law “trumped” county zoning laws. Commissioners rejected that argument, cutting Keating short and voting with no discussion.

Commissioners, in a six-page resolution, stressed the RZB gave no consideration to the Religious Land Use and Industrialized Persons Act, the foundation of the Jehovah Witnesses’ argument that the assembly hall legally is permitted in a JEDD.

The three-member board said there is no “compelling” government interest to bar the assembly hall from the industrial park based on RULPA and federal constitutional law.

“The evidence is insufficient to treat the applicant’s use on less than equal terms with other non-religious uses that have been approved. …” said commissioners.

“The evidence of a negative impact from the Jehovah’s Witness assembly hall on other property and/or businesses within the PUD is limited, anecdotal and based merely upon personal subjective opinion testimony,” they said.

PUD refers to Planned Unit Development, a regulatory process designed to group varied and compatible land use within a contained development.

In addition, commissioners gave considerable weight to whether the assembly hall would jeopardize repayment of bonds for the site, which also is a Tax Increment Financing District, a public financing method that subsidizes redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.

Commissioners ruled payments on the bonds exceed the necessary amount, and the property owner has guaranteed the bonds.

Meanwhile, more than 50 members of the Jehovah Witness organization waited in a nearby conference room for the decision. Philip King, legal counsel for the Southwest Ohio Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses was among them. King said the organization will provide economic benefits to Harrison and nearby communities.

He said the thousands of temple members who will attend weekend assemblies throughout the year will spend money at local restaurants, gas stations and other retailers.

The assembly hall is planned for construction on 32 acres in two stages. The first building would accommodate 3,000 people and include 1,100 parking spaces. The second-phase structure would add 578 parking spaces.

There is no timetable for construction, said King.

Last Updated on Thursday, November 15, 2012 9:11 PM


0 #7 2012-12-10 22:45
"Jehovah's Witnesses are respectable, happy people, interested in history, literature, art, and life in all its aspects. To alter Voltaire’s words, we could say that if Jehovah’s Witnesses did not exist, we would do well to invent them.” - Prof. Anatoly D. Zilber

"It takes a bigoted and paranoid imagination to believe that the Jehovah’s Witnesses pose any kind of threat to any political regime; they are as non-subversive and peace-loving as a religious body can be, and ask only to be left alone to pursue their faith in their own way." Omaha World-Herald

"You might regard them as model citizens. They pay taxes diligently, tend the sick, battle illiteracy.” - San Francisco Examiner

"Jehovah’s Witnesses are not disloyal Americans. . . . They are not given to law-breaking in general, but lead decent, orderly lives, contributing their share to the common good.” - American Civil Liberties Union
+1 #6 2012-12-10 22:39
"Witnesses testified in the proceedings that they followed the doctrines and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses of their own free will and personally determined for themselves their place of employment, the balance between work and free time, and the amount of time devoted to preaching or other religious activities." - European Court of Human Rights
0 #5 2012-12-10 22:37
"Nevertheless, as long as self-dedication to religious matters is the product of the believer's independent and free decision and however unhappy his or her family members may be about that decision, the ensuing estrangement cannot be taken to mean that the religion caused the break-up in the family. Quite often, the OPPOSITE is true: it is the resistance and unwillingness of non-religious family members to accept and to respect their religious relative's freedom to manifest and practice his or her religion that is the source of conflict. It is true that friction often exists in marriages where the spouses belong to different religious denominations or one of the spouses is a non-believer. However, this situation is common to all mixed-belief marriages and Jehovah's Witnesses are no exception." - European Court of Human Rights
-4 #4 2012-11-27 04:33
Jehovah’s Witnesses for most part don’t support any charities because Watchtower teaches them that the only way people will get help is through God’s kingdom so helping poor is a waste of time.

Watchtower also teaches that the way to help people is for JWs to preach to others their message which for most part includes much misrepresentati on of the group’s history, misrepresentati on of many sources they quote in their magazines and basically being negligent when it comes to human life when in need of blood transfusions.

Jehovah's Witnesses are not just "another religion".
They use deception and coercive tactics much like hard core cults except worse they come on your door step and talk to your family.
-11 #3 2012-11-18 17:52
Jehovah's Witnesses are truly unique among religions today.
1. They operate exactly ZERO charitable organizations
2. They operate soley as a corporate entity (legal dept runs everything)
3. Any love they show each other is fake and flimsy and will be turned off in a instant if you question
4. Allow their members to die because of wilfull misinterpretati on of scripture concerning Blood transfusions
5. Hold the record for the largest Lawsuit award against them for child sex abuse (google it)

Yes a very special group
-14 #2 2012-11-16 04:48
Heads up on Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jehovah's Witnesses typically will build this with free all 'volunteer labor'.They will utilize little if any secular contractors.

They will hold meetings that are 90% commuters who will eat at their facility.Some will gas up for the return trip home that is their typical patronage.

After 30 years of paying no property taxes they may then sell the property to commercial interest reaping enormous profit.

The new owners will be secular as the JW don't care who they sell to.In 30 years you will then get proper tax revenue.
-16 #1 2012-11-16 01:00
Jehovah's Witness leadership via their shunning policy break up families.
After baptism members must not question the leaders direction or authority as communicated by the Organization.
Failure to do so will result in life long shunning from all members including blood relatives.
This is a very cruel religion underneath the surface.