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.
In December, we reported that the Mahwah Township Council (“Council”) voted to withdraw two ordinances at the center of RLUIPA litigation involving the expansion of an eruv proposed by Bergen Rockland Eruv Association (“BREA”). According to Chabad.org, an eruv (pronounced (ay-roov) is “a technical boundary that allows Jews to carry in public areas on Shabbat.” The … Continue Reading
Hunt Valley Presbyterian Church (the “Church”) has sued Baltimore County, Maryland and the Board of Appeals of Baltimore County (together, “Baltimore County”), challenging Baltimore County’s conditional approval of the Church’s development plan, which sought to expand an existing house of worship. This is the fourth congregation to bring RLUIPA claims against Baltimore County in the … Continue Reading
That was the question before the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners earlier this month. The conflict arose as a result of John and Stephanie Shepherd’s continued attempts to host weddings on their property in Deschutes County, Oregon (the “County”), which is zoned for exclusive farm use (“EFU”) and subject to a wildlife protection overlay zone … Continue Reading
In an update to our previous post about an eruv dispute in New Jersey, the Mahwah Township Council has voted to withdraw two ordinances at the center of a religious discrimination lawsuit involving the construction of an eruv. In September, we reported about Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, Inc.’s (“BREA”) lawsuit against the Township of Mahwah … Continue Reading
Today we report on a fascinating decision out of the Tenth Circuit. It’s not a land use case. It’s not even an RLUIPA case. But we thought it appropriate for this time of year. The plaintiff, a pro se prisoner named Muamar Sayyed, claims to be the “Spirit of God and Son of Man, the … Continue Reading
We recently posted about a lawsuit filed by Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, Inc. (“BREA”) against the Township of Mahwah, New Jersey, regarding a dispute over the expansion of an eruv. Since then, eruv disputes have evoked claims of religious discrimination against two other New Jersey municipalities: by BREA, against the Borough of Montvale, and by … Continue Reading
Last week, Jesus Christ is the Answer Ministries, Inc. (the “Church”), a nondenominational Christian church in Baltimore County, Maryland, and the Church’s pastor, Reverend Lucy Ware, filed suit against Baltimore County, Maryland and the Board of Appeals of Baltimore County (together, “Baltimore County”), challenging Baltimore County’s denial of the Church’s petition to use Rev. Ware’s … Continue Reading
A church has filed suit against the City of Davenport, Iowa (the “City”), after the City issued it a Cease and Desist Order (the “Order”) prohibiting the service of meals to the homeless, alleging violations of RLUIPA’s substantial burden, equal terms, and nondiscrimination clauses, among others. Compassion Church, Inc. (the “Church”) began conducting religious services, … Continue Reading
The United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has reached an agreement with Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”), resolving allegations that the Township violated each of RLUIPA’s provisions when it denied a use variance application submitted by the Bensalem Masjid, Inc. (“Masjid”) to build a mosque. We previously posted about this case here. The DOJ lawsuit arose … Continue Reading
An Illinois appellate court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of RLUIPA claims asserted by the First United Methodist Church of West Dundee (the “Church”) against the Village of West Dundee, Illinois (the “Village”), finding that the Church sufficiently stated claims under the substantial burden and equal terms clauses. The case concerns a historic building located … Continue Reading
Last month, Bayonne Muslims, a New Jersey not-for-profit religious congregation, sued the City of Bayonne, New Jersey (the “City”), challenging the City’s denial of certain variances needed to construct a mosque. Specifically, the City’s Zoning Board denied Bayonne Muslims’ application for a conditional use variance, a parking bulk variance, and additional setback and buffer variances. … Continue Reading
Earlier this month, Agudath Israel of America Inc. (“Agudath Israel”) sued the Township of Jackson, New Jersey (“Jackson”), challenging Jackson’s recently-enacted land use ordinances restricting schools from all but three zoning districts and prohibiting dormitories. Agudath Israel’s Complaint, available here, alleges that Jackson’s enactment of these ordinances violates RLUIPA’s non-discrimination, equal terms, and exclusions and … Continue Reading
A federal court in the District of New Jersey has determined that claims asserted by the Congregation Kollel, Inc. (“Congregation”) against the Township of Howell, New Jersey (“Township”), based on the allegedly improper denial of a land use permit to build a Jewish educational facility, are ripe for review. The Congregation’s Proposed Plans The Congregation … Continue Reading
The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the City of Markham from requiring the Original Bible Church of Illinois to obtain conditional use approval to use property it leases as a church. The Original Bible Church (“Church”) leases property owned by its pastor in a “neighborhood shopping district” … Continue Reading
A federal district court in Tennessee recently dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a claim by the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) lawsuit challenging a Tennessee property tax exemption law on religious freedom grounds. Please see our previous blog post about the case here. Background Since 1995, ICN has operated a religious school, the … Continue Reading