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Leon County judge sides with City on homeless shelter issue with City Walk

A Leon County Circuit Judge sided with the City of Tallahassee after City Walk Urban Mission appealed a code enforcement action from earlier in 2021.
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:13 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Leon County Circuit Judge sided with the City of Tallahassee after City Walk Urban Mission appealed a code enforcement action from earlier in 2021.

City Walk’s most recent filing requests a written opinion on the issue from the judge.

The City of Tallahassee denied the shelter a permit in March and issued fines for its continued operation after complaints from nearby businesses and residents.

City Walk then filed an appeal in Circuit Court, arguing that the City’s code creates a system allowing for discrimination against religious institutions.

The Circuit judge upheld the fines.

In a statement, City Walk Urban Mission Pastor and Director Renee Miller wrote: “City Walk has never closed for even a second and we have no plans to do so.”

In an e-mail from the City Attorney to Commissioners and City Manager Reese Goad, Cassandra Jackson explained there is a separate issue pending before a Division of Administrative Hearings Judge about the denial of a permit.

“In addition to the code enforcement case, we also have a separate proceeding with City Walk concerning the denial of a permit to operate the shelter (a decision issued by the Development Review Committee). That proceeding is pending before a Division of Administrative Hearings administrative law judge and will go before the Planning Commission for decision on the permit issue. After decision by the Planning Commission, there will also be a right of appeal (initially to the circuit court).”

Cassandra Jackson, City Attorney, E-mail to Commissioners 11/04/21

Legal representation for City Walk also provided a statement.

A decision from the ALJ regarding our appeal of the City’s denial of City Walk’s site plan permit is forthcoming. We are optimistic the ALJ will recognize that the City violated state and federal law when it affirmatively induced City Walk to operate a cold-night shelter but then denied City Walk’s application to pursue its original, lower-impact religious mission—supportive housing.

Christine Pratt, First Liberty Institute

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