Archives: Equal Terms

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North Carolina City’s Zoning Code Amendment “At The Cross”-Road of RLUIPA Claim

Recent amendments to the zoning code of the City of Monroe, North Carolina (the “City”) are unconstitutional, according to the Complaint filed by At the Cross Fellowship Baptist Church (the “Church”), a congregation of approximately 30 people established in 2017, which describes itself as having “a calling to serve the Monroe, North Carolina community.”… Continue Reading

Federal Court Rejects Church’s Religious Land Use Claims Based on Government’s Legitimate Zoning Concerns

A federal court in Nevada has ruled that the denial of a church’s special use permit application to develop property with a house of worship did not violate RLUIPA’s substantial burden provision, the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, or state law.  Significantly, this case demonstrates the bedrock principle that land use agencies may … Continue Reading

Rabbi Lacks Standing for some RLUIPA Claims, Says Federal Court

A federal court in Maryland has found that a rabbi was without standing to bring claims under RLUIPA’s nondiscrimination and equal terms provisions, since those claims can be brought only by an “assembly” or “institution.”  While the court dismissed these claims, identical claims brought by a Jewish congregation – an assembly or institution under RLUIPA … Continue Reading

Maryland Federal Court – Church’s Alleged Substantial Burden was Self-Imposed

A federal court in Maryland recently rejected a church’s RLUIPA and related constitutional claims, finding that the religious group’s claimed harm was self-created.  The case demonstrates the importance of due diligence efforts in connection with developing property in the context of a religious land use controversy. The religious group, Jesus Christ is the Answer Ministries, … Continue Reading

Religious Land Use Controversy Brewing in Laurel, Maryland: Can a Church Worship in a Coffee Shop?

Redemption Community Church (the “Church”) has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Laurel, Maryland (the “City”), after the City issued a cease and desist order prohibiting the Church from offering religious services at the coffee shop it owns in the City’s community-village zoning district (the “CV Zone”). According to the complaint, the Church … Continue Reading

Allenhurst, NJ Sued Under RLUIPA One Day and Settles the Next

The Borough of Allenhurst, New Jersey has settled a lawsuit against an Orthodox Jewish group just one day after the group filed suit in federal court alleging violations of RLUIPA’s unreasonable limits and exclusions and equal terms provisions.  As part of the swift settlement, the Borough will permit an addition to a residential home to … Continue Reading

County of Ventura, California’s Permitting Scheme Stricken as Prior Restraint on Free Speech

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that Ventura County, California’s conditional use permit (CUP) scheme for “temporary outdoor” events is an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech.  Temporary outdoor events are defined in the County’s zoning code to include “[o]utdoor recreational events such as harvest festivals, amusement ride, historic … Continue Reading

To Protect Wildlife, or Religious Freedom?

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

Mahwah Eruv Update

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

City’s Refusal to Permit Private Religious School in Business District Does Not Violate RLUIPA

A federal court has issued another decision in the longstanding RLUIPA battle between the City of Upper Arlington, Ohio (“City”) and Tree of Life Christian Schools (“TLC”).  For a second time, a federal court in the Southern District of Ohio has ruled that the City did not violate RLUIPA’s equal terms provision by prohibiting religious … Continue Reading

No Homeless in the Historic District?

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

Department of Justice and Bensalem Township, PA Settle Lawsuit Over Mosque Denial

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

Municipality Prevails in Dispute Over Personal Chapel

The City of Brier, Washington (City) has prevailed over claims that it violated the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and other federal law in a dispute over a variance application to construct a personal Serbian Orthodox chapel. The case was brought by Vladan Milosavlejevic and his company (the Plaintiff), who sought to … Continue Reading

Eruv Dispute Prompts Claims of Religious Discrimination Against New Jersey Township

Last month, Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, Inc. (BREA) sued the Township of Mahwah, New Jersey regarding a dispute over the expansion of an eruv.  According to the complaint, “[a]n eruv, under Jewish law, is a largely invisible unbroken demarcation of an area … created by, among other things, using existing telephone or utility poles and … Continue Reading

Requiring Repair, Rather than Demolition, For Church’s Violations of Municipality’s Property Maintenance Code May Impose A Substantial Burden

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

New Jersey Township’s Recently Enacted Ordinances Alleged to Violate RLUIPA

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

Jewish School’s RLUIPA Claims Are Ripe For Adjudication

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

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

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

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

Guest 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

The 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
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