Constitutional Law Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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Kosher Meals for Prisoners: U.S. Department of Justice Wins Claim of Religious Discrimination against the Florida Department of...

A federal court has ruled that the Florida Department of Corrections’ (Department) refusal to provide kosher meals to inmates violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The court’s decision in...more

RLUIPA Round-Up

Welcome to the inaugural edition of RLUIPA Round-Up, where we run through recent religious land use disputes and other matters involving local government and religion throughout the country. Some of the items below include...more

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...more

Ruling Guides Cities on How to Regulate Holiday Displays

A high-profile case that provides guidance on how local governments might approach holiday display regulations without violating constitutional rights was decided last week by a federal appellate court. The City of Santa...more

Orthodox Synagogue Sues Dallas, Texas

The City of Dallas, Texas is in a familiar position. It’s being sued for religious discrimination. Last year, the City Council agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by two churches ministering to the homeless...more

The Ultimate Deus Ex Machina – Swingers Club Becomes a Church!

Every so often RLUIPA Defense feels the need to expand its reporting horizons. We usually stick to run-of-the-mill, pending or threatened litigation related to religious-land uses and RLUIPA. Sometimes we stray a bit and...more

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...more

New RLUIPA Suit: Kansas Church Sues Crawford County Commissioners

Liberty Baptist Church, a Kansas church founded in 1947 with a congregation of about 15 members (Church), is suing the Board of County Commissioners of Crawford County, Kansas over the denial of its application for a...more

Looming Right of Way Certification Deadline Threatens Butte County Project

Right of Way Certification is a key project milestone; not only does it mean a project is ready for advertising but obtaining certification by a certain date is often a prerequisite for funding. Tying certification to...more

City of Marysville, Washington Defeats RLUIPA, RFRA, and Fair Housing Claims

In Holy Ghost Revival Ministries v. City of Marysville (W.D. Washington), the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington considered claims of religious discrimination brought by Holy Ghost Revival Ministries...more

Satanic Temple at it Again: Brookville Feels the Heat After County Commissioners Deny Temple Display and Display Commemorating the...

Spring flowers and the final week of argument in the Supreme Court’s 2015 term have all of us at RLUIPA Defense thinking spring. However, at least one controversy from the 2014 holiday season is back in bloom (reported on...more

Real Estate and Land Use: Party On...

Woody’s Group, Inc. v. City of Newport Beach (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 1012 - Why It Matters: Woody’s Group establishes a very low threshold to prove a decision maker’s unacceptable probability of actual bias, thereby...more

D.C. Court Upholds Forest Service’s 2012 Planning Rule

In a decision issued April 28, 2015, a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed an action challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s (Service) 2012 National Forest Planning Rule (Planning Rule). The Service is...more

What is Done is Done – and Cannot be Undone

Lady Macbeth tells her troubled husband, “What is done is done” and later says to herself “and cannot be undone.” This is the outcome in Hillcrest Property, LLP v. Pasco County, 754 F. 3d 1279 (11th Cir 2014) and apparently...more

N.C. Court of Appeals Dismisses Municipal Takings Claim For Failing "Public Benefit" Standard

Today, the N.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a takings case filed by a local government. The case is Town of Matthews v. Wright, No. COA14-943 (April 21, 2015)....more

Update on Two Recent California Eminent Domain Cases

I wanted to provide a quick update on two recent cases from the California Court of Appeal. The first, Golden State Water Company v. Casitas Municipal Water District (April 14, 2015), involves what appears to be an...more

Suit by “Interested,” Neighboring Municipalities to Enforce SEQRA Requirements Does Not “Impose or Implement” a Land Use...

On March 27, 2015, the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants in the consolidated action Bernstein v. Wesley Hills, 08-CV-156; 12-CV-8856 (KMK), (the “Wesley Hills” Action). The...more

Court Finds Muslim Group Lacks Property Interest and Tosses RLUIPA Suit; Pittsfield Charter Township Wins

A federal court in Michigan has ruled against a Muslim group in its RLUIPA suit against Pittsfield Charter Township after finding that the group lacked a legally cognizable property interest to sustain its claims. To...more

Are Groundwater Extraction Fees Property Related or Regulatory Fees? It Depends

Two new Proposition 218-related cases published in March come to opposite conclusions in determining whether groundwater extraction and replenishment fees are “property-related” fees subject to Article XIII D of the...more

Maine Supreme Court Looks Past City Planner's "Unprofessional" Plea to Zoning Board of Appeals

This March, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court considered a claim that an "unprofessional" email from a city planner to the city's zoning board of appeals, pleading for a specific outcome on a land use appeal, does not per se...more

Caltrans and Temecula Join Forces to Relieve I-15 Congestion

The City of Temecula is moving forward with the French Valley Parkway. The project involves constructio of a new arterial, as well as improvements to the I-15 Winchester Road interchange. Phase I of the project included...more

Transgender Native American Prisoner Denied Access to Sweat Lodge and Unsatisfied with the Alternative Sues under RLUIPA: More on...

Corrections Corporation of America (Dist. Idaho 2015) because the decision reflects a recent trend in RLUIPA cases: close judicial scrutiny as to whether a compelling government interest is furthered by “the least restrictive...more

New Article Explores RLUIPA’s “Safe Harbor” Provision

Evan recently wrote the article “Finding Salvation in Religious Law’s Safe Harbor; Municipal Governments Can Take Steps to Mitigate RLUIPA Claims,” published in the March 23, 2015 edition of the Connecticut Law Tribune. ...more

Stemming the Blight: New Jersey Supreme Court Affirms Eminent Domain Powers

The New Jersey Constitution provides for taking of blighted property for the purposes of development, redevelopment or to clear such property of blight. ...more

A “Magnificently Convoluted and Contentious” Plat

Plats continue to be a source of frustration, uncertainty and expense for owners of waterfront property. In Sims Township v. Arenac County Drain Commissioner, the Michigan Court of Appeals described a "magnificently...more

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