Robert Davidson

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Church, City Settle Zoning Dispute

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A church and a Mississippi city have reached a deal to end a lawsuit and allow the Baptist group to operate in a storefront in the courthouse square.

Opulent Life Church sued Holly Springs in January 2012 when the city tried to block it from operating in what was a commercial building.

The city says it wanted to preserve downtown for businesses.

Opulent Life had support from Liberty Institute, a nonprofit that provides legal help to religious organizations.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mills dismissed the lawsuit March 1 after the parties reached the deal.

Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute’s litigation director, says the city must pay $100,000 in damages, attorney fees and expenses.

It also means the church, which Sasser says has 20-30 members, can operate in the downtown location.