Prince George’s council removes barrier for Reaching Hearts church

January 24, 2012

Reaching Hearts International, which wants to build a 900-seat church and grade school in Laurel, won approval Tuesday for water and sewer rights needed before it can build.

The Prince George’s County Council voted 7-1 in favor of the church, which already has won $3.7 million from the county in a lawsuit over the proposed church.

Council member Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel) cast the only dissenting vote. She reiterated concerns about the potential environmental harm to a nearby source of drinking water. Council member Ingrid M. Turner (D-Bowie) was absent.

The church still must seek approval from the county’s planning board for a detailed plan for the site. Michael Oxentenko, the church’s pastor, said he was “grateful for the county’s decision.” The church is seeking legal expenses from the county, in a case pending in federal court in Greenbelt.

The council acted after a December ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Titus found the county had acted improperly when it turned down the church’s request for permission to run water and sewer lines onto it property.

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