Christian Fellowship Centers Offers Settlement to Canton


CANTON, NY – On behalf of Christian Fellowship Centers of New York (CFC) in a letter sent on February 18, the law firm Mauck & Baker proposed a settlement to the Village of Canton with a deadline to respond by February 27. Waiving its possible entitlement to legal fees or damages in the proposal, CFC simply requested that the Village uphold federal laws to allow the church to use its new property as a place of worship.

However, the Village Board did not accept the settlement offer, and in doing so implied that its response should not be publicly disclosed. CFC wishes to remain transparent in its intent to amicably settle the case, but henceforth will seek damages and attorneys’ fees.

On a weekly basis CFC is incurring damages such as the cost of renting another location as well as the time and cost to continually set up for each service even though the former restaurant property on Court Street is ready for them to move in.

Despite already having six months to study and deliberate on whether to allow the church at one specific location, the Village is further delaying the process. As a result, CFC has no choice but to proceed with legal action to secure its RLUIPA rights to use the Court Street property as a place of worship for the congregation.

Although there are many other available properties in Canton, the village code requires churches to have a lot size of at least three acres in both residential and business districts. Properties with such requirements are severely lacking in the area, which is why CFC purchased its current location.

“We've been looking for properties for over two years, and have come across no 3-acre properties listed for sale,” said Pastor Jamie Sinclair. “There was one instance where we considered two properties for sale next to each other, but the lots only amounted to less than 1 acre. We've also considered unlisted lots and checked on a price for one that looked like it might work, but it was not something we could afford.”

John Mauck, attorney for the church commented, “We are disappointed Canton has not accepted a very generous offer. The only reason the Village has ever given for not allowing the church at 25 Court St. is the theoretical and speculative possibility that someone might want to sell alcohol within 200 feet of the front door of the church. In contrast to Luke 9:58, we estimate there are scores if not hundreds of locations where a new liquor seller could legally operate.”