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Thu Oct. 24th, 2013 News and Media

Two Coachella Valley cities are considering changes that would determine where religious institutions can locate, raising questions about federal law.

In Indio, city officials are proposing an all-out prohibition in the city’s downtown commerce district to make way for economic development according to the city.  The places of worship in that area are taking up commercial space that can otherwise be used for new restaurants, retail shops and educational or business venues. 

In Palm Springs, a task force made up of religious leaders from across the city began meeting about two years ago to discuss restrictions on religious institutions and propose changes. 

The planning commission will consider an amendment to a city ordinance that would expand the areas where places of worship may locate and remove the conditional use permit requirement. 

The ban on religious institutions in the central business district remains – for now.

Gregory N. Weiler tells Desert Sun reporter, Xochitl Pena Tatiana Sanchez, “The fact that they’ve gone and fixed it part way doesn’t mean they comply with the statutes.”  Mr. Weiler specializes in religious liberty issues and land use.  He is representing the task force pro bono.

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