MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. – A man who started"> a “church of music” after officials in a western Pennsylvania town turned down his request to hold concerts on his mountaintop property has been fined $500 for not having proper permits.
William “Willy” Pritts was slapped with the fine Wednesday for not getting a permit covering his nondenominational Church of Universal Love and Music in Bullskin Township, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
The music church is a place where people can pitch their tents and mosey over to a 60-wide open stage where jazz, bluegrass and rock bands jam. Instead of four walls and a bell tower, the church is in an amphitheater-like setting complete with a sound booth and archway.
After District Justice Robert Breakiron handed down the fine, Pritts, 40, said he was frustrated after trying to get the special exception permit for his church for three years.
“What more can we do?” Pritts said.
Pritts has said the church is being singled out by some community members because they object to the fact that it’s open to people of all faiths.
Zoning officials countered that he ignored a judge’s order barring him from holding commercial entertainment events – whether they have religious ties or not. A judge last month ordered Pritts to stop holding the concerts.
Officials question Pritts’ motivation for starting the church, which they believe is his way of skirting a rule aimed at preventing landowners from profiting off their land by means other than farming or for residential purposes.
Pritts has filed a lawsuit challenging the cease-and-desist order and said he plans another concert on his property in August.