We previously reported about the federal lawsuit filed by Christian Community Chapel against the Township of Hillsborough, New Jersey, in which the Township denied the Chapel’s variance requests to use a 14.3 acre property as a parsonage with a 150-seat worship facility. Although the Township voted 4-3 in favor of the Chapel’s proposal, the application was denied because a supermajority (5 votes) was required. The Chapel filed a federal suit and alleged that the Township’s denial violated the U.S. Constitution, the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act, and New Jersey law.
NJ.com reports that the Chapel and the Township have agreed on the parameters of a settlement that would put an end to the dispute, which must be finalized at a meeting of the Township’s Board of Adjustment. Reportedly, under the terms of the settlement, the Township will grant the Chapel’s requested variances, including use of the property for a parsonage and a sanctuary (conditional uses under the local zoning code). Although the Chapel claims the legal battle has been costly, it will not demand monetary relief to settle because it wants to continue to build its relationship with the Township. The Chapel would still need site plan approval, and it would likely be at least a year before the Chapel can move in.