City Files Eminent Domain Against Lubbock Church: KAMC-TV28 (Lubbock TX), 6/28/06

A local pastor says his church could be forced to shut down if the city gets what it wants.

The city has been planning for years to widen 50th Street west of Slide Road to seven lanes. In order to do that, they need some land from the Faith Assembly of God Church.

Earlier this week, the city filed eminent domain proceedings, and the church congregation says it`s just not right.

The city determined the church would only lose about six-square-feet of its sanctuary in the deal, so they offered the church $250,000.

The pastor of the church, Terry Nesmith, says he couldn`t accept the offer because the church would actually lose 30-feet.

"There`s just no way we can replace what we`re losing with ($250,000)," he says.

A judge appointed a commissioners court to make a recommendation on a fair price for the land. That court came up with $510,000. Nesmith says the church was ready to accept, but the city appealed the offer, saying it was too much money and filed for emminent domain.

Church members say they were shocked.

"I hate to say it, but it`s reminding me of a dictatorship, or communism," says Woodie Chambers, a member of the church. "They take what they want and you don`t have any say so.

"What if this was your church? We`re not trying to get rich. We just want what`s fair. We`re not against widening the street."

City Councilman John Leonard says now that he`s seen for himself that more than half of the church`s sanctuary could be destroyed in the deal, he plans to have the city council take another look at the issue.

"I think we were looking at market value instead of replacement value," he says. "I`m a little uncomfortable with where we are at. We`ll see what we can do."

Leonard says they will discuss the church at their next city council meeting on July 10th.

Faith Assembly of God has been at its location on 50th Street for 35 years. Members of the congregation say they hope they get to stay.

KAMC-TV28: http://www.kamc28.tv