Montgomery County will pay $1.25 million to Bethel World Outreach Ministries to keep the Silver Spring megachurch from building on land that it owns in the county’s agricultural reserve, officials announced Monday.
Montgomery has long sought to limit development in the 93,000-acre swath that covers the northern third of the county. The settlement concludes seven years of court battles that pitted environmental concerns against constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.
Under the agreement, the county will purchase an easement on Bethel’s 119-acre site in Germantown that limits construction to four single-family homes. Bethel has instead purchased a property on Norbeck Road in Silver Spring once owned by Parker Memorial Baptist Church. Pending regulatory approvals, Bethel will be able to open a 1,200-seat church on that site.
Imagine that! A government agency paying a private party not to create externalities, rather than suing and regulating it into surrender:
H/T Jeremy Skog