Archives: Nondiscrimination

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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

Church Sues Virginia County Over Religious Discrimination Claims

Last month, a church known as Love of Life Fellowship, Inc. (the “Church”) sued the County of Chesterfield, Virginia, alleging religious discrimination resulting from its desired acquisition and use of 38 acres at 500 Baptist Drive in Chester, Virginia (the “Property”).  The Church has used the Property for two years for religious worship and other … 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

Kenyan Church Claims Baltimore County’s Land Use Regulations Impose Substantial Burden

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

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

City of Bayonne, New Jersey Sued Over Denial of Application to Build a Mosque

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

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

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

DOJ Claims that County’s Denial of a Sewer Permit Violates RLUIPA

Guest Post by Derek Valentine Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department (“DOJ”) filed suit in District Court for the Western District of Virginia against the Culpeper County Virginia Board of Supervisors alleging it acted in a discriminatory manor by denying a permanent pump and haul septic system permit for a proposed mosque. The Islamic … 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

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

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

Guru 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

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

Chabad Files RLUIPA Suit Against Toms River, New Jersey

Rabbi 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

When is Mixed-Use Religious Exercise?

A Connecticut federal court has issued an important decision in a case involving the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that could affect how municipalities and courts examine whether certain proposals are religious uses protected by the statute.  The 2016 decision in Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County, Inc. v. Borough of Litchfield is … 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

Upcoming Webinar: Planning for Religious Uses Under the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act

The Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association is pleased to host the upcoming webcast Planning for Religious Uses Under The Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act on Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET. Registration is $20 for PLD members, $40 for nonmembers, and $45 for the webinar … Continue Reading

Mosque’s RLUIPA Claims Move Forward

Almost a year ago, we reported on The Bensalem Masjid, Inc.’s lawsuit against Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania following the Township’s denial of Masjid’s use variance application to build a 16,900-square foot mosque, including a 500-square foot conference room, a 4,000-square foot multipurpose room and 154 parking spaces (prior post here).  After five sessions of the public … Continue Reading

Illinois Federal Court Dismisses Some, But Not All, RLUIPA Claims

A federal court in Illinois, in Church of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, Illinois (N.D. Ill. 2015), dismissed some of the Church’s religious land use claims while allowing others to proceed. The case is important for a couple of reasons. First, it serves as a welcome reminder for local governments that … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Dismisses RLUIPA Complaint of “Indigenous/Aboriginal Free Moorish National”

In Bey v. City of Tampa Code Enforcement (11th Cir. 2015), the plaintiff Nura Washington Bey (“Washington”) sued the City of Tampa and its Code Enforcement Officer, Steven Mateyka, after Mateyka cited Washington in connection with her use of property to practice her Islamic faith with “fellow Moorish nationals.”  The citation noted that Washington had … Continue Reading
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