Jackson backs off legal action against church

Monday, April 14, 2003

A Jackson church is working "almost daily" on trying to comply with city zoning standards and avoid legal action, its pastor says.

A lot of equipment has already been moved out of the shed in the back of the Good News Christian Center, said Johnny Seabaugh, pastor of the church. The shed houses a tractor-trailer refrigeration unit warehouse, which is in violation of the church's commercial zoning.

A warehouse structure requires an industrial zoning.

Seabaugh said the profits of the business, run by member Jack Priest, go toward missions. Neighbors in the area have complained that the refrigeration units are eyesores.

The city was prepared to take the issue to court in March, but has backed off because the church has taken steps to remove the refrigeration units from its property.

"What we've told Rev. Seabaugh is that as long as they were making progress, we weren't going to get a court order," said city attorney Tom Ludwig. "That's always the best way to go -- to work it out before going to court."

Seabaugh said the church won't be able to move all the equipment off until later this spring, when a building is erected on Priest's farm.

A contractor has been hired, but the church does not yet have a start date on the building. Seabaugh said he was told the building would take about four weeks to erect.

"I appreciate the extra time we're being given," Seabaugh said. "There was a large load that left out of here Wednesday and more was taken away Friday. We're working almost daily trying to comply and I hope that as long as we're moving forward, they'll give us that time."

Good News Christian Center is at the intersection of Old Cape Road and Shawnee Boulevard, one of the busiest intersections in Jackson. It has 30 to 40 people in attendance every Sunday and provides a five-day-a-week day care.

If the matter ended up going to court and the church was found guilty, a fine of $10 to $100 per day could be enforced.



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