Venice, FL – The Code Enforcement Board of the City of Venice ended months of legal wrangling today against a family for having an unauthorized "house of worship" in their home. Shane and Marlene Roessiger host a prayer meeting on Friday nights with 6-10 people normally in attendance. City officials made a finding that the Roessigers hold a prayer meeting at their residence once per week and as such ordered them to come into compliance with the City's Code which does not allow a "house of worship" on a property of less than two acres. In addition to the prayer meeting, the family was cited for having a sign which read "Need Prayer (941) 484-4915." The Roessigers faced fines of $250 per day for the violations. At the advice of the City Attorney, the Board voted 6-0 to drop the two matters at a hearing today.
The Pacific Justice Institute represented the family after being contacted in June. In a letter to the City, attorney Kevin Snider informed officials that the Roessigers would continue to exercise their rights to the use and enjoyment of their property for prayer and Bible study. Snider subsequently wrote that the City’s sign ordinance suffered from constitutional defects because it has exceptions for political signs.
"We applaud officials from the City of Venice for changing course in this matter,” said PJI president Brad Dacus. "PJI commits to protecting people of faith before local boards and in court who do nothing more than have small religious gatherings in the privacy of their own homes," Dacus continued.
PJI would like to acknowledge and thank its affiliate attorney Roger Gannam of the law firm Lindell & Farson for serving as Florida counsel in this matter. Additionally, PJI encourages Bible studies in every community to find out about their city's policies regarding home religious gatherings and contact PJI for legal assistance as needed.
Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit legal organization dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights.
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