Lifepoint Baptist to face possible loss of special-use permit at City Council

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SAN ANGELO, Texas — The San Angelo City Council will hold a vote on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 on whether to reauthorize a special-use permit allowing Lifepoint Baptist Church to “allow an indoor multi-use recreational facility” on property which is zoned for residential use. The church has leased a portion of their property to Texas Tumbleweeds Gymnastics since 2019.

This will be the second time the church has sought a special-use permit from the city. The initial permit, granted in September of 2019, will be heard by City Council for review and reauthorization. While the first special-use permit was approved by both the Planning Commission and the City Council in 2019, the Planning Commission chose not to recommend reauthorization in a 3 – 2 vote on May 17.

A lawsuit against the City of San Angelo, Lifepoint Baptist Church, and Texas Tumbleweeds Gymnastics is expected to be heard in court on June 15th, 2021. Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking $100 thousand in damages and are asking that the resolution originally passed in 2019 by the City of San Angelo be declared void.

Travis Stribling, the Chair of the City of San Angelo Planning Commission is the son of one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

When asked what choices Lifepoint Baptist Church has if City Council declines to reauthorize the special-use permit, Dustin Gains, who is representing the church in court, said, “We believe that this decision would be discriminatory because the City Council would be singling out Lifepoint Baptist and Texas Tumbleweeds and treating them differently from other secular approvals.

“Should this not be passed by the City, both entities will vigorously protect their constitutional rights—against the City—via the appropriate proceedings in federal court,” said Gains, “It is our hope that City Council familiarizes itself with the RLUIPA legislation and its impact on this case prior to the June 1 hearing.”

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