Constitutional Law Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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Eminent Domain: Be Careful What You Ask For

The condemnation of property for public works may not always be as clean and easy as the government would like. Although local governments are often critical players in the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated...more

City Ordinance Banning New Outdoor Billboards, but Authorizing Relocated Ones, Upheld by California Court

Authorizing Relocated Ones Upheld by Court; Constitutional Challenges Rejected; Injunction Order to Remove Billboard Affirmed - The City of Corona has prevailed in a constitutional challenge to its enforcement of a...more

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...more

Yeshiva Sues New Jersey Township for Religious Discrimination

Yeshiva Gedola Na’os Yaakov, Inc. (the “Yeshiva”) has filed a federal lawsuit against the Township of Ocean, New Jersey and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment following the denial of an application to develop a yeshiva...more

USPS Sued for Seizing Sacramental Marijuana

Oklevueha Native American Church (Church) was established in 1997 in Utah by Plaintiff James Mooney and his wife Linda, who are each of Native American decent. According to the complaint in Oklevueha Native American Church...more

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...more

Are Groundwater Pumping Fees or Charges Subject to Proposition 218? California Supreme Court to Resolve Conflicting Precedent

In 2015 California’s Sixth and Second District Courts of Appeal issued conflicting opinions regarding whether groundwater extraction fees or charges are subject to Article 13D of the California Constitution (Proposition 218)....more

SCOTUS Non-Land Use Case Could Impact Land Use

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request to review a church’s claim that the state of Missouri violated the federal constitution by prohibiting religious groups from obtaining state funding because of their...more

Zombie Case Just Won’t Die

It’s maybe one of our favorite blog posts titles of all time: “Zombies Outshine Satan? More Controversial Holiday Displays, Including Baby, Fanged, Undead Jesus and Dogs in Costumes.” The case of Baby, Fanged, Undead Jesus...more

Another Twist in California’s Right of Entry Rules

Eminent domain practitioners have been waiting for nearly two years for the Supreme Court to issue its decision in Property Reserve v. Superior Court. At issue is the constitutionality of California’s “Right of Entry”...more

Illinois Nuns Sue Over Brewery/Nursing Home Denial

Fraternite Notre Dame, Inc. is suing the County of McHenry, Illinois, over the County’s denial of a petition to amend a conditional use permit. Notre Dame’s mission includes various charitable activities, such as a daily...more

Synagogue Neighbor’s Weekday Service Protest Dismissed by New York Court

In 2005, the Village of Lawrence (Village) granted permission to Bais Medrash of Harborview Synagogue (Medrash) to construct a synagogue on three contiguous lots. As part of its approval, Medrash entered a Declaration of...more

Ninth Circuit Rules No Substantial Burden Where Church Could Relocate or Submit Modified Application

The Ninth Circuit, in Mesquite Grove Chapel v. Debonis, recently issued an important decision ruling that plaintiff Chapel did not suffer a substantial burden on its religious exercise under the Religious Land Use &...more

When the Tent’s A-Rockin’… Rock Below 60 Decibels

Vintage Church of Metairie, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was never a source of neighborhood angst—that is, until the tent came. After merging with another local church in 2010, Vintage’s membership steadily rose. By 2015, the...more

Nativity Scenes & Starbucks Coffee Cups Spark Holiday Controversy Across Nation

It wouldn’t be the holidays without controversial nativity scenes igniting lawsuits across the country. Generally, these lawsuits are brought under the Establishment Clause, alleging that the government illegally endorses...more

Supreme Judicial Court Holds That Sweat Lodge Prison Closure Violates RLUIPA

On November 23, in Trapp v. Roden, 473 Mass. 210 (2015), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s (DOC) closure of a sweat lodge at Souza-Baranowski Correctional...more

Supreme Court to Decide if Army Corps Initial Jurisdictional Determination to Regulate Wetlands Under CWA is Ripe for Judicial...

By Andrew H. Perellis, Patrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) agreed on Friday to review an important Clean Water Act (CWA) decision issued by the Eighth Circuit in Hawkes Co.,...more

NC Court of Appeals rules Emerald Isle’s restriction on the use of privately owned oceanfront property is not a compensable...

What part of a beach in North Carolina is subject to public use and what part is private property was recently addressed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle (Nov. 17, 2015). This case...more

A Brief Legal Guide for Local Public Officials in Responding to Terrorist Attacks

There are just some legal matters that should not be put off — and sorting out the legal authority local public officials have in responding to a terrorist attack is one such matter. Once the attack is already underway, it’s...more

New Hampshire Church and Signs for Jesus Sue for Electronic Biblical Board

Hillside Baptist Church (the Church) and Signs for Jesus (S.4.J.C.) (together, Plaintiffs) recently filed a complaint in the District Court for New Hampshire, seeking a declaration that the Town of Pembroke’s (the Township)...more

School district’s condemnation of a private road passes the test

The power of eminent domain allows a government or quasi-governmental entity to condemn (take) private property for a public use upon a showing of necessity. In exchange, the property owner must receive “just compensation”...more

Pennsylvania State Trial Court Dismisses Appeal Challenging Constitutionality of Local Ordinance Regulating Natural Gas Drilling

In Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Middlesex Township Zoning Hearing Board, A.D. No. 15-10429 (Nov. 19, 2015), Butler County Judge S. Michael Yeager upheld a gas drilling ordinance that was challenged by residents and...more

Trans Mountain Expansion Project: Burnaby’s Latest Bid for Jurisdiction Unsuccessful

The City of Burnaby’s latest effort to assert jurisdiction over work performed in Burnaby in connection with the Trans Mountain Expansion Project was recently dismissed for procedural and constitutional reasons in Burnaby...more

West Virginia Church Sues Development Authority

Summit Church, founded in 1991 in Elkins, West Virginia, is suing the Randolph County Development Authority for thwarting the Church’s plans to purchase property for its religious use. The Church already owns property in...more

RLUIPA Round-Up (Thanksgiving Edition)

Many view Thanksgiving week as a time for reflection and gratitude.  Whether looking forward to the next turkey or reminiscing about the last, take some time for our semi-regular summary of news items involving local...more

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