By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
Just before its attorneys would be defending the city of Holly Springs against a lawsuit alleging one of its zoning ordinances illegally discriminates against churches, the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen changed the ordinance in question Tuesday.
Oral argument in the suit was to begin Wednesday in the Fifth District U.S. Court of Appeals. Opulent Life Church and Pastor Telsa DeBerry are asking the court for an injunction to allow it to occupy a storefront it rented on the Holly Springs square. The ordinance in question required approval of a church’s location by nearby residents and the mayor.
The new ordinance is “as discriminatory as, if not worse than, the original ordinance,” said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, which represents the church and its pastor.
“Churches should be able to grow and expand free from discrimination. Placing special burdens on them is unfair, unconstitutional and illegal,” he said.