Atty: No inspection of Springfield sanctuary church without cour - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Atty: No inspection of Springfield sanctuary church without court order

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

We have new developments tonight in the case of a Peruvian woman seeking sanctuary in a Springfield church. 

The city wants to inspect the church, but the church said not without a court order.

Gisella Collazo and her two children have been living in the South Congregational Church for the past week.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has ordered city departments to inspect the church for housing code violations and pursue stripping the church of its tax exempt status.

However, since the woman moved into the church, city inspectors have not entered the church.

Springfield city solicitor Edward Pikula said the city had a previous agreement with the church to inspect the property yesterday, but the law department was contacted yesterday by another attorney.

In a statement to Western Mass News, Pikula said in part:

"However, the Law Department was contacted on Monday 4/2 by another attorney and informed that no entry for inspection would be allowed unless a court issued administrative search warrant was provided. The Law Department, with the Code Enforcement Office, and the Fire Department has the matter under review and will follow up with appropriate action."

Tara Parrish of the Pioneer Valley Project, who is working with with the church and the woman who was granted sanctuary, told Western Mass News that no agreement was made to inspect the church on Monday.

Parrish added that the city conducted its annual inspection of the church last August and the church passed the inspection.  She noted that if the city wants to come back and inspect again, they'll need a  warrant from the court.

Collazo and her two children sought sanctuary in the church on March 26, one day before Collazo was scheduled to be flown back to Peru.

Meanwhile, while the city and church remain at odds over inspecting the church area where the woman is staying with her two children, the city council will be taking up an order against city intervention with the church.

A meeting this afternoon was postponed until Monday.

Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.

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