CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — A Castle Rock church has filed a lawsuit, after it received backlash from the city for providing temporary shelter for unhoused people on its property.
In a complaint filed on Jan. 4, 2024, Church of the Rock alleged the Town of Castle Rock and the zoning manager tried to prohibit it from providing shelter for "people experiencing temporary homelessness."
According to the complaint, “as of November 2021, there were two campers on the property.”
The RVs were parked in a private back lot, according to the suit.
“From at least 2019 through November 2023, these campers have been used on an occasional basis to provide overnight shelter for certain temporarily shelter challenged persons participating in the Rock’s compassionate care programs," according to the document.
On Sept. 29, 2023, the church received a "letter of determination" from the zoning manager, stating the church was violating zoning regulations and that it can't have RVs used as residences parked on site.
On Oct. 13, 2023, the church filed an appeal with the board of adjustment.
The board of adjustment heard the appeal in December, and sided with the zoning manager.
The church claims it was well within its rights to provide temporary housing, citing the Religious Land Use And Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
According to the suit, under RLUIPA, "persons are protected from land regulations that impose substantial burden on a person's free exercise of religion."
It also said, "Castle Rock does not have the right to tell the Rock which vehicles can be parked in its private lot, how long they can be parked there, and whether someone can sit, stand, eat, or sleep in such vehicle."
In its suit, the church is asking for the letter of determination to be invalidated, so it can continue to offer temporary housing in the way it did before.
We asked the church for comment, but we're haven't received a response at the time of this publication.
We also reached out to the Town of Castle Rock, but it said it cannot comment on pending litigation.