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Evangelical Church Sues Colonie, New York, Alleges Religious Discrimination, Over Delays in Land Use Approval Process

An evangelical church, Life Covenant Church a/k/a (“LifeChurch”), is suing Colonie, New York (“Town”), the Town’s Planning Board, certain of its members, and the Town’s attorneys over allegations that the Town’s failure to issue certain land use approvals is religious discrimination in violation of RLUIPA and the state and federal constitutions.  Presently, LifeChurch has … Continue Reading

St. Anthony, Minnesota to Pay $200,000 to Settle RLUIPA Suit Brought by Department of Justice

Earlier this year, we reported on the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) against the City of St. Anthony Village, Minnesota (“City”) over the City’s denial of Abu Haraira Islamic Center’s (“Center”) conditional use permit to develop a 15,000 square foot religious and cultural center in the basement of a property located … Continue Reading

Mosque Sues Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania Over Denial

The Bensalem Masjid Inc. (“Masjid”) has sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”) and the Township’s Zoning Hearing Board (“Board”) for denying approval to construct a mosque.  Nine months after the application was submitted and after multiple public hearing sessions, the Township denied the proposed 16,900 square foot place of worship, a 500 square foot conference room, … Continue Reading

Township of Bridgewater, NJ to Pay $7.75 Million to Settle RLUIPA Suit Against Muslim Group

The Township of Bridgewater, New Jersey has agreed to pay nearly $8 million to settle a lawsuit over claims that its denial of Al Falah Center’s proposal to construct a mosque violated the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).  The Center, which sought to use a former hotel on Mountain Top Road as … Continue Reading

Federal Court Enters Injunctive Order Against Bayview, Texas in RLUIPA Suit Filed by Church

We previously reported on the case Cornerstone Church by the Bay v. Town of Bayview, Texas, in which the Church and the Laguna Madre Christian Academy are suing the Town (population approx. 400) under the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA), and the state and federal … Continue Reading

Virginia Federal Court Clarifies RLUIPA Standing Requirements & Dismisses Substantial Burden Claim

In an important decision, the court in Aldon, LLC v. City of Newport News, Virginia (E.D. Va. Nov. 20, 2014), clarified the standing requirements under RLUIPA.  Few courts have addressed RLUIPA’s standing requirements.  The Court also held that “the difficulty associated with finding an affordable location in an urban area alone does not amount to … Continue Reading

New RLUIPA Suit: Mount Zion Church of God in Christ v. City of Garden City, Kansas

Garden City, Kansas is being sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the U.S. Constitution, and state law over allegations that it has discriminated against a local church, Mount Zion Church of God in Christ (Church).  The Church alleges the following in its complaint. The Church, which consists of about thirty … Continue Reading

Audio/Video Available from ABA Webinar: Litigating Religious Land Use Cases

On November 6, 2014, Daniel P. Dalton, John F. X. Peloso, Jr. and I participated in the webinar “Litigating Religious Land Use Cases,” hosted by the ABA’s State & Local Government Section.  We discussed the state of the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) as it nears its fifteen birthday, and provided practical tips … Continue Reading

Man Smashes Car into Ten Commandments Monument After Oklahoma Court Ruling

The Associated Press reports that an Oklahoma state court, in Prescott v. Capitol Preservation Commission, (OK Cnty Dist. Ct., Sept. 19, 2014), has ruled that a six-foot tall Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol did not violate the Establishment Clause because of its historical value.  The monument is part of … Continue Reading

ABA Webinar Litigating Religious Land Use Cases

The State & Local Government Section of the American Bar Association is hosting a webinar that may be of interest to our readers – “Litigating Religious Land Use Cases.”  Here is a description of the program: This program will explore and analyze legal principles and issues related to litigating religious land use cases. It will … Continue Reading

Can the Flying Spaghetti Monster Reshape RLUIPA?*

By Kristina Doan Gruenberg of Burke, Williams, Sorensen LLP Stephen Cavanaugh, an inmate incarcerated by the Nebraska Department of Corrections, filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging that prison staff repeatedly discriminated against him by not allowing him to meet for worship services and classes, or to wear religious clothing and pendants. Cavanaugh says that he … Continue Reading

ALI-CLE 2015 Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation & Condemnation 101 Agendas And Faculty Announced

The agendas and faculty lists have been released for the 2015 ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation (the “masters” program, now in its 32nd year), and Condemnation 101: How to Prepare and Present an Eminent Domain Case (the boot camp or refesher course on eminent domain fundamentals).  The program will take place from February 5-7 … Continue Reading

Conn. Killer’s Kosher Request Illustrates National Debate*

Isaac Avilucea, The Connecticut Law Tribune October 13, 2014 A Muslim prisoner has taken Arkansas prison officials to the U.S. Supreme Court for refusing to allow him to grow a one-inch beard for religious purposes. In New Mexico, a prisoner sued corrections officials for not allowing him to practice Satanism. Here in Connecticut, convicted Cheshire … Continue Reading

Upcoming Webinar: Sex, Guns, and Drugs: Planning for Controversial Land Uses

The American Planning Association’s Planning & Law Division is hosting a webinar on October 22, 2014 that may be of interest to many of our readers and to others looking for a break from RLUIPA.  Here is a description of the program: The U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the right … Continue Reading

2d Cir Extends Williamson County Ripeness “Final Decision” Requirement To ADA Claims

[Editors' Note: This posting is reprinted with permission from the Inverse Condemnation blog.] Ah, Williamson County. We've ranted about it before, so we won't do so here (again). But takings mavens know that a property owner must meet two tests before she can raise a takings claim against a state or local government in federal court: … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Restores Litchfield Synagogue’s Lawsuit*

Jay Stapleton, The Connecticut Law TribuneSeptember 30, 2014 A lawsuit filed by a Litchfield Jewish organization has been reinstated, giving the group new hopes it will ultimately win approval to build a 20,000-square-foot synagogue and community center near the historic green. Chabad Lubavitch filed its lawsuit against the Litchfield Historic District Commission in 2007, after … Continue Reading

City, Islamic Group Near Settlement in Mosque Suit; Proposed deal would curtail legal fees, end religious land use case

Jay Stapleton, The Connecticut Law Tribune, September 5, 2014 Lawyers representing an Islamic group that wants to build a mosque in Norwalk had run up an estimated $5.5 million legal tab. That number was making attorneys representing the city a bit nervous. And so the two sides have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed … Continue Reading

Connecticut Home Invasion Killer/Death Row Inmate Sues Under RLUIPA for Kosher Food

In 2007, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky invaded a home in Cheshire, Connecticut, where they horrifically murdered a mother and her two children.  Hayes and Komisarjevsky were sentenced to death for their crimes.  Now, Hayes is suing the Connecticut Department of Correction and several of its officials for being refused a kosher diet.  The handwritten … Continue Reading

New RLUIPA Suit Accuses Two New York Municipalities of Anti-Semitism

The Village of Bloomingburg, NY (Village) and the Town of Mamakating, NY (Town) are facing allegations of religious discrimination in land use regulation.  On September 8, 2014, the Bloomingburg Jewish Education Center, Sullivan Farms II, Inc., Learning Tree Properties, LLC and other interested entities and individuals (Plaintiffs) sued the Village and the Town and certain … Continue Reading

Orthodox Jewish Temple & City of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida Settle RLUIPA Suit

Temple B’Nai Zion and the City of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida have settled their four-plus years of litigation over the Temple’s appeal of the City’s historic site designation of property owned by the Temple and used as a synagogue.  We previously reported on the case a year ago, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for … Continue Reading

DOJ Sues Minnesota City Over Denial of Islamic Somali Immigrants Mosque Proposal

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued the City of St. Anthony Village under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) after the City Council, in 2012, denied the Abu Huraira Islamic Center’s application for a conditional use permit to develop and operate a 15,000 square foot religious and cultural center in … Continue Reading

Islamic Center and City of Norwalk, Connecticut Reach Proposed Settlement in RLUIPA Suit

Al Madany Islamic Center and the Norwalk Zoning Commission have agreed to the terms of a proposed settlement stemming from the Commission’s 2012 denial of the Islamic Center’s proposal to construct a 27,000 square-foot mosque and multi-purpose hall on 1.5 acres in a residential neighborhood.  The U.S. Department of Justice intervened in the case after … Continue Reading

New Mexico Federal Court Rules Ten Commandments Display Outside City Hall Violates Establishment Clause

In Felix v. City of Bloomfield (D. NM Aug. 7, 2014), the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico found that the display of a five-foot, granite Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall violated the Establishment Clause “because its conduct in authorizing the continued display of the monument on City property has had … Continue Reading