Milwaukee Church Wins Zoning Lawsuit

MILWAUKEE, WI (November 7, 2013) — A lawsuit by Harvest Covenant Church against the city ended Monday when U.S. District Court Judge Charles N. Clevert entered an order approving Milwaukee’s settlement with the church.

As part of the settlement the church obtained monetary damages and was compensated for its attorneys’ fees, said Noel Sterett, an attorney with Chicago-based firm Mauck and Baker, which represented the church.

In 2008, Harvest pastor Darnell Robinson returned from serving in the military and attempted to start an Evangelical Covenant Church in Milwaukee. Robinson founded the Harvest Child Development Center, a day-care and social service facility, hoping to use the same location for church services on Sundays.

However, a Milwaukee ordinance effectively prohibited storefront churches. Robinson applied for a special use permit in 2010 but was denied, Sterrett said. Harvest filed suit against Milwaukee on June 1, 2012.

During the dispute, the court granted the church interim relief on March 26, 2013, that allowed religious assembly in the building.

Along with the damages and attorneys’ fee, Harvest was also permitted to permanently continue holding religious assembly at their location on 7127 West Lisbon Ave.

“I think the city quickly realized that the prior efforts to prevent storefront churches were unconstitutional,” Sterett said.

“We appreciate Milwaukee’s willingness to right a wrong and for its cooperation in this settlement,” said Sterett.

“I was really grateful for how attorneys for the city heard our story and responded after we filed suit,” said Robinson.

To view the settlement agreement and stipulation for dismissal click here and the original complaint here.

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