Kansas man faces jail if he doesn’t tear down personal backyard church

A Topeka, Kansas man's backyard church (KSNT)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A Topeka man’s time is up to tear down his personal church that he built in his backyard in order to avoid having to go to jail.

While ‘Love they neighbor’ is plastered on a sign attached to one of the structures, there hasn’t been much love from neighbors since he started building the them 15 years ago. The buildings have been the center of controversy on Southwest 33rd Street.

Myron Holter was convicted by the Topeka Municipal Court of violating six city ordinances last year; He has fought to keep the structures code compliant since then. After a hearing in district court in March, he was told that he must bring them to complete compliance or the structures would have to be removed. In July, Myron Holter was sentenced to 90 days in jail starting Oct.1 if he didn’t remove the noncompliant structures.

“It’s very hard for us right now and we don’t know what to expect,” says Sally Holter. “It is scary. He’s very scared and so am I. I really don’t want to say very much more.”

“The court did state that should Mr. Holter remove the violations on his property prior to Oct. 1, he could seek a modification of his sentence,” says Charles Kitt, the chief prosecutor for the City of Topeka. “So the burden would be on him to present something to the district court prior to Oct. 1 at 8 a.m.”

But his neighbors just want the church gone.

“Jail isn’t the answer in my opinion,” says Michael Hays. “Making the structures up to par, which at this point means tore down and start over.”

If Holter does not show up to the Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentence, then the court will issue a bench warrant for his arrest.

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