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Registration Open: 32d Annual Land Use Institute

Registration is now open here for the 32d Annual Land Use Institute to be held April 19-20, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.  This is the program, previously produced by ALI-ABA for many years, which is now produced by the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law.  The web site includes the faculty list and … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Decides Regulatory Takings Case

The US Supreme Court today issued its latest pronouncement on regulatory takings, Murr et. al, v. Wisconsin, et al. Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. The issue was whether two adjacent lots that had “merged” in common ownership by operation of state law, should be considered individually, … Continue Reading

Church Entitled to Damages Following Denial of Special Use Permit

The expanding congregation of Christian Assembly Rios de Agua Viva sought a new home for their church in suburban Chicago, Illinois and began a three-and-a-half year search that ultimately led them to a four-acre property within the commercial zoning district in Burbank, Illinois. The district allowed 114 by-right uses including many non-religious assembly uses such … Continue Reading

R+C RLUIPA Lawyers Present at Touro Law

Land use litigation lawyers Ted Carey, John Peloso, and Karla Chaffee presented an update on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) for Touro Law’s Institute for Land Use and Sustainable Development Law on September 23, 2016. The presenters offered techniques for local governments to use in avoiding, mitigating, and defending against RLUIPA … Continue Reading

Georgia County Imposes Moratorium on Religious Uses

Newton County, Georgia has imposed a moratorium on religious uses following the planned construction of a mosque and cemetery.  The Al Maad Al Islami Inc., a Doraville mosque, purchased 135 acres at the corner of 162 and County Line Road Road in June of 2015, and obtained an administrative use permit to construct the mosque … Continue Reading

Update: Nomadic Church and Delanco Township Consent Order

On November 3, we reported that My Father’s House Ministry, Inc. (Church) sued Delanco Township, New Jersey after denial of the Church’s application for a use variance . (See our November 3 post).  Based on the parties stipulation, the court issued a Consent Order Preliminarily Enjoining Delanco Township from preventing the Church from using the … Continue Reading

East End Eruv Association one step closer to achieving its goal

Last month, we reported on the New York State Supreme Court decision that held the Town of Southampton, New York erroneously applied its sign ordinance to East End Eruv Association’s (“EEEA”) proposed eruv, which EEEA seeks to erect on utility poles through Southampton and nearby municipalities.   An eruv is “a largely invisible unbroken demarcation of … Continue Reading

Webcast — Housing and Takings: A Look at the U.S. Supreme Court’s Inclusive Communities Project and Horne Decisions

The Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association is pleased to host the upcoming webcast Housing and Takings: A Look at the U.S. Supreme Court’s Inclusive Communities Project and Horne Decisions on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. ET. Registration is $20 for PLD members, $40 for nonmembers, and $45 for the webinar and … Continue Reading


This week, RLUIPA Defense continues its effort to aggregate important new stories reflecting the intersection of religion, land use and local government. Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis – Indiana’s pot-smoking church founded by Bill Levin – has been incorporated by the IRS as a tax-exempt religious organization. Mr. Levin, also known as the … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds Santa Monica Ordinance Banning Unattended Displays; Baby, Fanged Jesus Display Would Require a Sitter

While the holiday season is still several months away, nativity scenes are back in the news.  What nativity scene discussion would be complete without adorable baby, fanged Jesus?  On New Year’s Eve 2014, we reported about the zombie nativity scene created by haunted house worker Jasen Dixon in which a crowned wise man presents baby, … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Rules Against St. Johns, Michigan Ordinance Banning Charitable Donation Bins

In a decision that should be of interest to many of our readers, the Sixth Circuit has affirmed a federal district court’s ruling that an ordinance in the City of St. Johns, Michigan (City) prohibiting the use of charitable donation bins likely violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A summary of Planet Aid v. … Continue Reading

Upcoming Webinar: Ethical Rules and Considerations for Planners, Planning Commissioners, and Lawyers

On April 8, 2015, the Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association is hosting the webinar “Ethical Rules and Considerations for Planners, Planning Commissioners, and Lawyers.”  This program may be of interest to many of our readers.  While ethics always matter in the planning context, they may be especially critical in the context … Continue Reading

Upcoming Webinar: “Lessons from the Sage Grouse: Impacts of the Endangered Species Act on Local Land Use Planning”

On March 31, the Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association is hosting the upcoming webinar “Lessons from the Sage Grouse: Impacts of the Endangered Species Act on Local Land Use Planning” that may be of interest to our readers.  Here’s a blurb about the program: Participants will learn the importance of fully … Continue Reading

City of Dallas Sues Synagogue and Property Owners Who Use Home for Religious Worship Services

The City of Dallas is suing Congregation Toras Chaim, Inc. (“CTC”), a small Jewish Orthodox synagogue that operates out of a private residential home, to enforce the City’s local code and require the synagogue to obtain a certificate of occupancy (“CO”).  Reportedly, up to 25 congregants attend religious worship services at the synagogue on the … Continue Reading

Touro Law’s Bagels with the Boards CLE – RLUIPA Defense: Avoiding and Defending RLUIPA Claims

On February 27, 2015, Hiram (Ted) Carey, Karla Chaffee, and Evan Seeman were the featured speakers at the Touro Law Center’s Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute’s inaugural “Bagels with the Boards” CLE. The program was largely attended by local government lawyers, who learned about techniques that local governments may use to avoid, mitigate, … Continue Reading

Check Out Our New Look! RLUIPA Defense’s Re-Grand Opening!

RLUIPA Defense has had a makeover! The authors of RLUIPA Defense will continue to bring you breaking news and analysis of cases and controversies influencing the confluence of religion and land use—but now with a more refined, easy to use format. No need to worry, because our archive of resources, library of cases, and older … Continue Reading

American Bar Association Mid-Year Conference’s “Religious Land Use Litigation Since 2000”

On February 5, 2015, the American Bar Association’s State & Local Government Law Section sponsored the program “Religious Land Use Litigation Since 2000,” held in Houston, Texas. I participated in the program, along with Daniel Dalton of Dalton & Tomich, Dean Patricia Salkin of Touro Law School, and Noel Sterett of Mauck & Baker. The … Continue Reading

New Article re How to Avoid and Defend Against RLUIPA Claims

The recent issue of West’s Zoning and Planning Law Report features an article by Evan Seeman that will be of special interest to our readers: RLUIPA Defense Tactics; How to Avoid & Defend Against RLUIPA Claims.  The article is available here.  Early reviews of the article include these: “An excellent article for the municipal practitioner, … Continue Reading

The High Court Hears Argument: Is Gilbert’s Sign Ordinance Content-Neutral? What Standard of Review Should Apply?

Last summer, we reported that the U.S. Supreme Court granted Good News Community Church’s (Church) petition for a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, No. 11-15555 (9th Cir. 2013). The case involves a sign ordinance in the Town of Gilbert that … Continue Reading

Kennesaw, Georgia Back in the News: Suffa Dawat Center Files Preventative Lawsuit

In December, we reported that Kennesaw, Georgia’s City Council reversed its initial decision to deny an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail shopping plaza.  Despite the approval, the applicant, Suffa Dawat Center at Kennesaw (the “Center”) filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia, Suffa Dawat Center v. City of … Continue Reading

Integral Yoga Group and Swami Hope to Find Their Inner Balance in Federal Court; Lawsuit Alleges Religious Discrimination by Maui County, Hawaii

The Spirit of Aloha Temple (“Spirit”) and Fredrick R. Honig a/k/a Swami Swaroopananda are suing the County of Maui and the Maui Planning Commission (“Commission”) over the Commission’s denial of their proposal to use an 11-acre site for religious observance (including yoga), services (including weddings), and education.  Spirit currently leases the site, located at 800 … Continue Reading

Zombies Outshine Satan? More Controversial Holiday Displays, Including Baby, Fanged, Undead Jesus and Dogs in Costumes. Happy Holidays from RLUIPA Defense Part Deux.

Last week we reported on several controversies regarding public displays of traditional and not-so-traditional religious iconography.  Well, it seems that the issue isn’t dead yet. Since our last holiday post, several new stories have come to surface. Oh Holy Zombies? The manager of “13 Rooms of Doom Haunted House,” Jasen Dixon, wanted to celebrate Christmas … Continue Reading