(CNN) – A church is getting slapped with a $12,000 fine for doing what they say is “god’s work,” helping the homeless. It all started when the church’s neighbor got fed up.
For 200 years the Patapsco united Methodist Church has helped its parishioners in Dundalk and this year has been no different.
Rev. Katie Grover, Patapsco United Methodist Church said, “There was a man sleeping out here underneath a sleeping bag, he had his hat pulled over.”
Around the corner, someone else’s possessions are stacked up.
Katie Grover, “This is the business that we conduct is carrying for the least, the last and the lost and the best we can do right now is let them take refuge.”
The church property is considered by some, a safe haven, until now,
Chester Bartko, Property Owner said, “This tree killed by bums, bums dumping urine”
Chester’s property is next door and he called the county with complaints.
Chester Bartko, “I want em moved out of here.”
Katie Grover, “I can’t control who sleeps here at night unless I’m here all day, all night”
While the pastor prays.
Chester Bartko, “The county and state has facilities for homeless people they shouldn’t be here living like this”
The conflict escalated with the arrival of a citation.
Katie Grover, “A penalty for non-compliance”
The violation: non-permitted rooming and boarding house.
Grover, “They’re not paying me rent, or paying us rent to board here, so I don’t know how that is defined.”
The fine: $12,000.
Chester Bartko, “If this church won’t conform to community standards I mean what else is left?”
Grover, “The best we can do as a church we can do is just be a place of refuge”
The church has until December 18th to clear the property or pay the fine. The pastor at the church said she doesn’t encourage people to sleep outside, but she doesn’t want to turn anyone away.