Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River, Inc. (“Chabad”) has settled its religious discrimination lawsuit against the Township of Toms River, New Jersey (“Township”), putting to rest its allegations that the Township violated each of RLUIPA’s provisions by requiring Chabad to obtain a variance to continue to use its property (“Property”) as a Chabad house, house of worship and religious school. We previously posted about this case here and here.

As part of the court’s entry of settlement, the Township will allow Chabad to operate a Chabad house at the Property, a term defined as “a residence for a rabbi and his family who are affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement within Chassidic Jewish tradition, and who engage in certain religious observances with other individuals at that location including Sabbath services, meals, religious classes, and Hebrew school classes.”  Chabad’s use of the Property is subject to conditions designed in part to protect public health and safety: (i) limiting the maximum number of people permitted for on-site events; (ii) requiring Chabad to inform guests of certain parking restrictions; and (iii) permitting Chabad to erect a sign on the Property, compliant with the Township’s existing bulk ordinance for signage.  In addition, the Township must dismiss all zoning and building citations issued against Chabad, and pay Chabad $122,500 for damages and attorney’s fees in connection with the federal litigation.

The United States Department of Justice has closed its investigation into the Township’s zoning practices.  Nicole Siegel, an attorney in the Justice Department’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Division, wrote: “In light of the resolution of that lawsuit and other documents and information provided by the township, and after considering the relevant facts and applicable law, we have decided not to take enforcement action pursuant to RLUIPA against the township.  Consequently, we have closed the investigation.”

The Court’s Order for Judgment in Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River, Inc. v. The Township of Toms River, Docket No. 3:16-01599 (District of New Jersey 2018) is available here.

 

 

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Photo of Diana Neeves Diana Neeves

Diana E. Neeves, a member of Robinson+Cole’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group, focuses her practice on environmental, energy, telecommunications, and utilities law. She also helps defend municipalities nationwide in cases involving the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Ms.

Diana E. Neeves, a member of Robinson+Cole’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group, focuses her practice on environmental, energy, telecommunications, and utilities law. She also helps defend municipalities nationwide in cases involving the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Ms. Neeves handles litigation related to environmental and land use matters. She represents clients in disputes brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and handles litigation involving asbestos contamination and exposure. Ms. Neeves’ litigation experience involves federal and state environmental enforcement actions and lawsuits between private parties.

Ms. Neeves regularly works with clients on the clean-up of contaminated properties, including Superfund sites. She assists clients with federal and state administrative compliance, including environmental remediation. Ms. Neeves helps represent a client who owns property which was contaminated by a previous owner, and she has been working with the state environmental agency to coordinate site clean-up.

Ms. Neeves is part of Robinson+Cole’s Utilities Group, which serves utility and energy clients on  regulatory and environmental matters. She provides a range of transactional and compliance services. She helps clients navigate all local, state and federal permitting requirements, and works to ensure they are in compliance with all regulations. Ms. Neeves has recently been working with clients on energy and conservation matters in hearings before the New York State Public Service Commission.

Ms. Neeves provides guidance to clients seeking local zoning approvals. She counsels them on meeting requirements for land development and securing necessary municipal and state permits to do so.