Hillcrest Church Fight Moves to Council Today

Way, way back, I put up a blog bost about a proposed zoning change that would allow Hillcrest Church to operate a private school on its property. Turns out (it wasn’t at all clear from their rezoning application) that Coram Deo Academy, currently housed at the unaffiliated Trinity Hillcrest Church (just a few hundred yards to the north), would be moving in.

But then things turned ugly. Because it seems the church and the neighborhood don’t have the best of relationships. Neighbors banded together to sue Hillcrest Church in 2002 over its planned expansion, which I believe was settled once a compromise was reached. Neighbors say the church didn’t live up to its end of the bargain, which included extensive landscaping and other improvements that went uncompleted. Needless to say, neighbors were opposed to Coram Deo moving in, more from the bad blood with the church, it seemed, than opposition to the school itself.

Things reached a head on May 6 when the City Plan Commission recommended denial of Hillcrest Church’s application. The church decided to appeal to the City Council, where the case will be heard today. Expect fireworks. I’m expecting neighbors to come out in force, and Hillcrest Church attorney John Fowler, who has kids at Coram Deo, has promised a federal lawsuit if the request is denied.

Be forewarned: today’s council meeting will a “doozy”, according to DMNer Rudy Bush. And Hillcrest Church is No. 88 on the agenda. Wish me luck.

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