LIBERTY, Mo. -- Neighbors packed a Clay County commission meeting Tuesday opposed to a church's request to use recreational vehicles as housing for church members.
The religious group has been trying to occupy a former limestone mine near Excelsior Springs, Mo.
The group, which calls itself the Church of Liberty, wants to keep travel trailers on land it rents to house six of its followers.
The church's plans have not met county zoning requirements. There is no development plan for the land on Old Quarry Road and county inspectors are concerned the religious group would live in caves on the property without adequate health measures and sanitation in place.
Neighbors believe a trailer park would depress property values and compared Pastor Doug Perry's religious group to a cult.
"My biggest concern is how many trailers are they going to allow and how are they going to police it?" said Wayne Danielson, a neighbor. "Right now, it’s just been wide open. There’s just been no attempt to police that or to control that growth at all. They’ve not been allowed to live there, but they’ve been doing it for at least a year and half."
Perry told county commissioners none of his neighbors have been harmed by the church. He says his community of christians living together is misunderstood because it's not a typical religious organization. He says his group provides a mobile petting zoo at the Renaissance Festival.
"We want to be a community of believers living on the land, working the farm, inviting people to come in," Perry said "We have people come from all over the world to see what we’re doing. We have given away 5-million pounds of food in the last 10 years. We’ve cared for the community, but they think we are fortifying positions and having automatic weapons. There’s no such thing at all."
Clay County commissioners are scheduled to vote Monday on the church's request to use recreational vehicles as a principal dwelling.