Administrators with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality say they're worried a decision to give St. Joseph's church in Lingan a heritage designation could trigger a flood of similar requests.
Regional council voted nine to three in favour of the designation despite opposition from the owner, the Diocese of Antigonish.
The Lingan Historical Society asked for the designation because the history surrounding the church dates back 300 years, when the first French parish in Cape Breton was formed in Lingan.
Some municipal leaders said they're are worried the vote has set a precedent.
"This matter perplexes me greatly and I often feel conflicted," said Mayor Cecil Clarke.
That's a concern shared by the municipality's top administrator, especially now that the heritage request was granted.
Marie Walsh said the decision could come back to haunt the municipality.
"The fear is that this could set a precedent. As we all know there's other churches coming and there's people desperately trying to save their church and I understand that. I think a lot of emotions entered the conversation and people voted with their emotions. But I do think that it will be a concern for us in the future and it's going to come back again and again."
Coun. Ray Paruch shares Walsh's concern.
"I think there's going to be a wave, potentially, to have more and more coming before us at Council. Some people may have different motives than this group in Lingan," said Paruch.
However, Walsh said she doesn't think home owners need to worry about someone asking council to designate their property as a heritage home without their consent.
"If that were a residential house and somebody was trying to have it designated as a heritage property, I certainly don't think council would have voted yes to do that, but definitely with the church properties I think that's going to come back at us."
Paruch said council has made the wrong decision, but for now he will just have to live with it and hope for the best.