Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. County of Riverside

Facts: Owners of a religious organization established a church on land zoned for non-profit religious buildings as a permitted use. Zoning later changed to exclude non-profit use to allow for economic development. Unaware of the change in zoning, the owners purchased a neighboring parcel to build another church. On discovering the changed zoning, the owners petitioned the county to change the zoning to allow non-profit religious buildings to be permitted. The petition was denied as it included plans for a special occasion and wedding venue for which use the owners will not regularly charge fees. 

Claim: The owners claim the zoning ordinance was invalid since it discriminated against religious institutions by treating them on less than equal terms than it would a non-religious institution.

Counterclaim: The county claims it properly denied the plan since the owners would not regularly charge a fee for the use of the special occasions venue and the primary purpose of the building was still religious and not for profitable economic gain.

Holding: The California appeals court held the county was not required to approve the building plans, and the owner’s religious organization was not discriminated against since its proposal was not in compliance with zoning as required of all properties subject to the zoning. [Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. County of Riverside_CA6th_]

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