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Church Noise Disturbs Homeowners, Richmond Heights Residents Say

Two people told City Council that while they respect the worship rights of members at Life Changing Christian Fellowship Church, they want to ensure city code is enforced.

Comments this month from two homeowners living near Life Changing Christian Fellowship Church in Richmond Heights indicate the congregation is living up to its name—but not, they say, in a way that's always endearing to neighbors.

At the Oct. 1 meeting of City Council, the homeowners said the church at 1430 Silverton Place repeatedly has been too loud. Live music featuring singing, a bass and drums emanates from the property during rehearsals and worship, waking up children in neighboring houses and keeping homeowners from opening their windows.

Jeff Kiefer lives on Silverton. He said noise and parking violations have been a problem ever since the congregation moved into the neighborhood. The church opened there in the fall of 2010 and previously operated at a building leased by Saint Louis University, an article in the St. Louis American states.

Officers with the Richmond Heights Police Department have been called to address the problem, Kiefer said. That, combined with meetings among residents, the church and city officials, hasn't resolved his concerns.

Kiefer asked the council to take three steps:

  1. Review a complaint log kept by residents since February of this year.
  2. Address police about how to address noise concerns, or help broker an agreement with church leaders to end noise after 8 p.m.
  3. Review photos taken by neighbors with Fire Chief Kerry Hogan or ask Hogan to visit the area to see whether he thinks fire crews could get equipment into the neighborhood in the event of an emergency.

Heath Moylan also spoke at the meeting. His family, including three children, lives on nearby Del Norte Avenue. He described efforts to stop the noise as a "game of cat and mouse," noting that periods of silence after some complaints are followed by more noise.

Moylan said that his children have been awoken by the noise and that people living a block away can hear it. Police response times to complaints are inconsistent, he said, and officers often are reluctant to do anything.

While neighbors would never ask officers to interrupt a religious service, they would like them to enforce penalties such as fines for any noise-ordinance violations, Moylan said.

"Over and over again, U.S. courts have fully and broadly upheld the rights of cities" to enforce their laws, even when they are at odds with religious practices, he said.

BISHOP DONALD HAWKINS June 18, 2013 at 12:06 AM
THE STAFF AND MEMBERS HAVE MADE ALL TYPES OF ADJUSTMENTS FOR THE NEIGHBORS. AT SOME POINT, SACRIFICES NEED TO BE MADE BY THE RESIDENTS AS WELL. AS A CHURCH WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO OUR BEST TO RESPECT OUR NEIGHBORS, WE'RE JUST ASKING FOR THE SAME IN RETURN,

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