By Jessica Mathews /

Genoa Township is possibly facing a lawsuit after plans for a controversial chapel and religious sanctuary space were denied.

Missouri-based Catholic Healthcare International had been seeking to construct a 6,000-square-foot chapel with other accessory uses in honor of St. Padre Pio on 40 acres located on the west side of Chilson Road, south of Crooked Lake Road. Also proposed was a mural wall, Stations of the Cross and nature paths for quiet reflection. The property is currently zoned agriculture/country estates.

The project was loudly opposed by neighbors who said it went against the master plan, would generate extreme amounts of traffic, noise and thousands of potential “pilgrim” visitors. Many felt the project is not consistent with the current zoning and general rural character of the area but moreso that CHI was not being truthful and had ulterior motives about larger plans for a medical hospital. Contradicting messages were presented at meetings versus what has been on their website. A link is provided.

CHI and project representatives have repeatedly refuted those allegations, saying such facilities could never be built there due to a lack of infrastructure.

The township planning commission had recommended approval of a needed special land use permit, site plan and environmental impact assessment by a slim 4-3 margin. Those were later denied by the township board in a 5-2 vote. CHI still owns the land and could put forth a different proposal but it appears they have since retained the services of the American Freedom Law Center to challenge the rejection according to an article on - arguing the township violated the federal Religious Land Use Institutionalized Persons Act.

Requests for comment have been placed with the Center and Genoa Township.