We have not yet had the opportunity to write up our thoughts about the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Eagle Cove Camp & Conference Center, Inc. v. Town of Woodboro, Wisconsin (7th Cir. 2013), but to tide you over until then, here is one aspect of the case that has caught our attention.
In upholding the District Court’s decision denying the plaintiff’s RLUIPA substantial burden claim, the Seventh Circuit concluded that the municipality’s denial of the plaintiff’s conditional use permit to operate the Bible camp did not impose a substantial burden on the plaintiff’s religious because:
“There are numerous locations within Oneida County for Eagle Cove to place its Bible camp. Eagle Cove concedes that there are four tracts of land, out of the ten put forth by the County, which would be suitable for their proposed camp. Despite this admission, Eagle Cove has insisted from the onset of this litigation that the camp must be built on the subject property. In fact, they have never even looked into operating the Bible camp on any other land in Oneida County, though several properties in the County that could have supported a year-round camp have been sold since 2006. It is not the land use regulations that create a substantial burden, but rather Eagle Cove’s insistence that the expansive year-round Bible camp will be placed on the subject property. See Petra Presbyterian Church v. Vill. of Northbrook, 489 F.3d at 846, 851 (7th Cir. 2007) (“When there is plenty of land on which religious organizations can build churches . . . in a community, the fact that they are not permitted to build everywhere does not create a substantial burden.”).
Check back for a full analysis of the case.