CLEVELAND - Cleveland's Mt. Zion Congregational Church has seen a lot of struggle in its long history, including a bombing when it moved to the University Circle area.
On Wednesday, its battle with the city to tear down two homes on church property to make way for a community center suffered a defeat as Cleveland CIty Council approved a historic district designation for the Wade Park/Magnolia neighborhood.
The designation will make it very difficult for the church to tear down the homes, currently used for office and meeting space. After Wednesday's meeting, Rev. Paul Sadler told NewsChannel5 that the vote was pretty much what he had expected, but that he is determined to move forward.
"We're going to continue what we're doing, raise money for the capital building campaign, and move forward with vital ministries. There are many steps we can take, including litigation," Sadler said.
City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson, who requested the historic designation from the city Landmarks Commission said his primary interest is in preserving the character of the neighborhood.
"What they (the church) want to do is put up an institutional building in a residential neighborhood. It changes the environment there and that's just unacceptable to me."
By getting the law passed, the church will now have to go before the Landmarks Commission before it can tear down the homes on its property. Plans for the family life center include space for Sunday school, elder care, job training and other outreach ministries.
"We are going to expand. But the issue is that we're spending a lot of time and money to fight with the government when the government should be working for us," Sadler said.
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