September 17, 2009 – The Shelton, Connecticut neighborhood of Greenfield Drive is host to a story of religious intolerance and provides an accurate representation of the struggle that many small religious organizations and individuals practicing from home are facing around the United States; the freedom to practice religion without discrimination and to assemble peacefully, without restrictions from city authorities, state officials and speculative neighbors.
Practicing Wiccan Robert de Maille von Schmidt, is facing opposition from Shelton neighbors who feel that his recent application to expand his front porch to allow for wheel chair access as compliant with ADA standards, is nothing more than a “devious” attempt at establishing a future temple for the Wiccan Coven of the Spiral Light which he heads.
Concerned neighbor, Mary Peck has stated that,
“Any kind of religion is good; I just have a problem with people trying to shove their religion in my face.”
Neighbor Julie Raslavsky has expressed her belief that,
“The whole thing is inappropriate” and that the neighborhood is “up in arms over this.”
WitchVox.com has public notices of a Public Mabon Ritual to be held by the Wiccan Coven of the Spiral Light to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox and Witches Thanksgiving from the home.
Mary Peck who is monitoring her neighbors closely has stated that many of the ceremonies involve people dressed in black robes and for one such ceremony there was a sign put up at a neighborhood intersection, courteously inviting the public to attend.
July Raslavsky has affirmed her personal beliefs by calling the group “devious” and “untrustworthy”.
City Zoning Administrator Rick Schultz has responded with the fact that, Churches are allowed by right in residential zones however the city “would have to look at its parking”. He went on to state that “there is a difference between people meeting at a home as a group and an assembly as a church activity.” He noted that many churches exist in the city and have appropriate space for parking. No application for such activity has been made and the speculation of a future religious temple from neighbors has been the only issue addressed over the ADA compliant porch debacle; not whether or not it is benefitting individuals visiting the home who may have disabilities.
“But if it does progress into an issue of conducting church services in a residential neighborhood, it could become a zoning issue, Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Tony Pagoda said.”
“People who live in glass houses should not throw stones”