Archives: Equal Terms

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Jewish School’s RLUIPA Claims Are Ripe For Adjudication

Original photography by Gerard Montigny (LicensedA 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

Church’s RLUIPA Claim Against an Illinois City is “Likely to Succeed”

Original Photography by  Anthony Auston  ( some rights reservedThe 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

DOJ’s RLUIPA Claims Survive Motion to Dismiss

A federal court in Pennsylvania has denied Bensalem Township’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice challenging the Township’s denial of a use variance for a mosque.  The lawsuit alleges violations of the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and is in addition to a separate lawsuit … Continue Reading

Port Jervis, NY Sued by DOJ; Settles Two Days Later

The City of Port Jervis, New York has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that the City’s revision to its zoning code violated the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).  In August 2015, Goodwill Evangelical Presbyterian Church (Church) finalized a contract to purchase … Continue Reading

Facial RLUIPA Claims Against Mobile, AL Dismissed

meditationGuest Post by Tavo T. True-Alcala Earlier this year, the Thai Meditation Association of Alabama and several individual plaintiffs (“the Center”) filed suit against the City of Mobile, Alabama (“the City”), alleging that the denial of its application to operate a meditation center in a residential area was a violation of its rights under RLUIPA on three … Continue Reading

RLUIPA Case of the Year? Minnesota Municipality Uses RLUIPA’s Safe Harbor Provision to Avoid Liability

In an important decision for municipalities across the country, a federal court in Minnesota has recently ruled that actions taken under RLUIPA’s “safe harbor” provision absolved a local government of possible RLUIPA violations.  This is especially noteworthy because few courts have considered the safe harbor provision.  According to the court, the City of St. Michael’s … Continue Reading

Buddhist Meditation Center Sues Mobile, AL

meditationThe Thai Meditation Association of Alabama and several individual plaintiffs (the “Center”) have filed suit against the City of Mobile, Alabama, its  Planning Commission, and City Council (“Mobile”) after the Planning Commission denied the Center’s application to construct and operate a meditation center intended to accommodate Buddhist practices on a 6.7-acre parcel (the “Property”).  The complaint, … Continue Reading

Hundreds Erupt in Elation After Sterling Heights Mosque Denial

In the RLUIPA Round-Up post, we noted that the City of Sterling Heights, Michigan, is facing a federal lawsuit following its denial of the American Islamic Community Center’s (Center) zoning application to build a 20,500 square foot mosque.  The Center began searching for property it could purchase and construct a mosque, especially in the City … Continue Reading

California Federal Court: Is Leasing to a Church Religious Exercise?

The Scinto Foundation (Foundation) supports religious organizations “by having activities which are similar to [religious activities] and/or by giving them money, or donating services ….”  The Foundation sued the City of Orange, California, claiming violations of rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and state law, because the City “deprived the … Continue Reading

Department of Justice Sues Bensalem Township, PA Over Mosque Denial

On July 21, the United States Department of Justice sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, in federal court alleging violations of each of RLUIPA’s provisions following the Township’s 2014 denial of a variance application submitted by the Bensalem Masjid, Inc. (Masjid) to build a mosque.  While it is always noteworthy when the DOJ sues a municipality over … Continue Reading

Sikh Temple files suit after Oyster Bay, NY ordered it to stop work and then required SEQRA review

khandaGuru Gobind Singh Sikh Center, Inc. (the “Temple”), on June 29, 2016 in the Eastern District of New York, sued the Town of Oyster Bay, New York, the Town Board, and several Town Officials (together, the “Defendants”) after the Defendants halted the Temple’s construction of a house of worship, known as a gurdwara. The complaint … Continue Reading

A flood of amici support the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

mosque (1)Recently, we reported that Bernards Township, New Jersey (the “Township”) had invited the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (“ISBR”) to resubmit an application to develop a mosque. Previously, the Township denied the Islamic Society’s application for a 4,250 square foot mosque after more than 39 public hearing sessions over the course of about 4 years.  … Continue Reading

Did the Sixth Circuit Unintentionally Adopt an RLUIPA Equal Terms Test?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently issued its decision in Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington, in which it reversed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the City as to Tree of Life’s RLUIPA equal terms claim.  RLUIPA’s equal terms provision states: “No … Continue Reading

Muslim Group Rejects New Jersey Township’s Offer to Resubmit Mosque Application

Bernards Township, New Jersey has invited the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge to resubmit an application to develop a mosque.  Earlier this year, the Township denied the Islamic Society’s application for a 4,250 square foot mosque after more than 39 public hearing sessions over the course of about 4 years.  The Township’s protracted review of … Continue Reading

Chabad Files RLUIPA Suit Against Toms River, New Jersey

chabadRabbi Moshe Gourarie and the Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River Inc. (the “Center”) have sued the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (“ZBA”) in the Federal District Court of New Jersey.  The Center’s complaint is available here. Rabbi Gourarie has run the Center from his home and … Continue Reading

Recovery House’s RLUIPA Challenge Fails

The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has rejected RLUIPA and other claims asserted by a religious group in Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island (N.D. Ill. 2016).  The case stems from Affordable Recovery Housing’s (ARH) attempt to open a faith-based recovery home for adult men recovering from drug and alcohol … Continue Reading

West Virginia Church Prevails Against Development Authority

Late last year, Summit Church of  Elkins, West Virginia, sued the Randolph County Development Authority (“RCDA”) in the Northern District of West Virginia for preventing the Church from purchasing a local movie theater for its religious use.  The theater was part of a former CSX rail-yard that was purchased in 1997 by RCDA, subdivided, and … Continue Reading

Connecticut Soup Kitchen to Remain Open Following Settlement

The City of Norwich, Connecticut has agreed to end a three-year legal battle to settle three separate federal lawsuits allowing St. Vincent de Paul Place, Norwich, Inc., a ministry of The Polish Roman Catholic Congregation (Church), to operate a soup kitchen and food pantry at the site of a former parochial school.  The settlement will … Continue Reading

Congregation unlikely to succeed on RLUIPA claims

The Northern District of Illinois recently had an opportunity to apply the Seventh Circuit’s “accepted zoning criteria” RLUIPA Equal Terms test to a plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction in Truth Foundation Ministries, NFP v. Village of Romeoville, Case No. 15 C 7839.  The court concluded that Truth Foundation Ministries (“TFM”) did not have a … Continue Reading

Rhode Island Town Sued for Religious Discrimination

The King’s Tabernacle, a Rhode Island Church with a predominantly African American congregation of 20 members, has sued the Town of Johnston, Rhode Island over the Town’s denial of its special use permit for religious assembly use.  According to King’s Tabernacle, “[i]n early 2015, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Church set out … Continue Reading

Yeshiva Sues New Jersey Township for Religious Discrimination

Yeshiva Gedola Na’os Yaakov, Inc. (the “Yeshiva”) has filed a federal lawsuit against the Township of Ocean, New Jersey and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment following the denial of an application to develop a yeshiva with boarding facilities for 96 male students between the ages 18 and 22 in a residential zone, to allow … Continue Reading

Is a Parsonage a Primary Use? NJ District Court Ponders the Question

Christian Community Chapel Wesleyan Church, Inc. (the “Chapel”) was founded in 2000 and grew quickly to 125 members.  Expecting continued growth, the Chapel purchased a 33,000 square foot building with seats for 600 worshipers.  Unfortunately for the Chapel, its membership fluctuated greatly over the next ten years, at one point dropping to 35 members.  Its … Continue Reading

Illinois Nuns Sue Over Brewery/Nursing Home Denial

Fraternite Notre Dame, Inc. is suing the County of McHenry, Illinois, over the County’s denial of a petition to amend a conditional use permit.  Notre Dame’s mission includes various charitable activities, such as a daily soup kitchen, a weekly food pantry, and an after-school program.  In 2005, Notre Dame obtained conditional use approval to develop … Continue Reading

New Hampshire Church and Signs for Jesus Sue for Electronic Biblical Board

Hillside Baptist Church (the Church) and Signs for Jesus (S.4.J.C.) (together, Plaintiffs) recently filed a complaint in the District Court for New Hampshire, seeking a declaration that the Town of Pembroke’s (the Township) sign ordinance is unconstitutional both facially and as applied to the Plaintiffs.  According to the Plaintiffs, the Township’s Ordinance “restricts how the … Continue Reading
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