Whether Permitting

Interesting news story about a pastor & his wife being told to cease their home Bible studies or else face prosecution for the county for using their home for gatherings that would normally require a major use permit.  

A representative for the county has defended the citation, while also stressing the safety issues that would cause such a citation for any event that is perceived by someone as some sort of safety threat of some kind.  The rationale sounds plausible at first.  If you have enough people on site, with enough vehicles, then emergency vehicles might not be able to access the area in the event of, you know, an emergency.
However, by that reasoning, the county ought to be imposing a limitation on how many vehicles are considered safe for one house, and how many are considered excessive.  Should there be a limit on the number of vehicles associated with any home on the cul de sac?  Does each homeowner have a right to a specific number of spaces?  Are there special exceptions?  This issue was apparently prompted by a neighbor complaining about his vehicle being hit by one of the people as they were leaving the study.  At what point is the complaint valid, and at what point is it spurious?  Does the county have any hard and fast rules on these things, or is it simply a matter of what the visiting officer feels is appropriate?  Based on the lack of specifics by the county representative, I’m guessing that things aren’t very well defined here.
On the flip side, the pastor and his wife are now claiming that the county is attempting to stop home Bible studies.  Given the alleged nature of the conversation with the visiting officer, and the wording of the official report on the incident,  that’s an understandable claim.  But I wonder about their approach to the situation.  How many vehicles were actually on the street?  Is there a way for the couple and the city to come to a common understanding about what the real issue is?  How is it that the officer would feel it appropriate to demand that the couple stop having Bible studies, instead of warning them about an excessive number of vehicles being parked on the street?  
I can understand taking things public if attempts to come to an understanding of the real issues fails.  I don’t know if that is what has happened here.  If the county refused to back down on it’s stance, then taking the matter public would seem the only logical course of action for the couple.  This is certainly an issue that demonstrates some major difficulties in terms of educating not only citizens, but law enforcement officials about key related issues.  And perhaps it’s a justifiable effort to set a precedent for defending home Bible studies – and really any other form of home gathering – from spurious complaints of either a neighborly or official variety.  But I dread to think about how certain elements are going to be screaming about this at the top of their lungs, from their pulpits and YouTube feeds.  

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