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Church Sues Fort Collins Over Homeless Locker Restrictions

By Jamie Leary

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)- A church in Fort Collins is suing the city, accusing it of "unlawfully" using land use codes to stop a program that would help the homeless.

The Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship been consistently working with the city of Fort Collins to implement a homeless locker program.

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Earlier this year, the city agreed to fund the program but neighbors appealed the decision. At the end of October, the city placed the following restrictions on the program:

  • The church must install a security camera and retain the footage for seven days
  • Limit the hours of operation from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Have a staff person present during the hours of operation
  • Limit access to the lockers outside the hours of operation
    (credit: CBS)

The ACLU, which is representing the church, declined to comment Thursday but in the complaint, calls the restrictions "burdensome and restrictive" and says the application of the Fort Collins Land Use Code was "discriminatory" and "unlawful."

(credit: CBS)

The complaint also refereed to what it calls a constitutional violation under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

CBS4 spoke with the head of the church, Pastor Steve Ramer, in September. At that time he had installed security cameras but said the church could not afford to hire someone to monitor the lockers full-time.

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"We see it as a larger push by not just by city leaders, but by many probably in the business community to try to get the homeless out of the city of Fort Collins." Ramer told CBS4 in September.

(credit: CBS)

The city of Fort Collins also declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. It said the City Attorney's Office is reviewing the complaint but did reference links to a past city council hearing where the restrictions were put in place:

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn't imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.

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