Zoning, Planning & Land Use Constitutional Law

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Court of Appeal Upholds Anti-SLAPP Motion to Defeat Claims Against Government Agencies

Ruling Allows Government Agencies to Use the Motion to Quickly End Meritless and Vexatious Lawsuits - A government agency can employ an anti-SLAPP motion to win early termination of meritless and vexatious lawsuits...more

California Supreme Court Grants Review of Coastal Act Decision with Takings Implications

In September 2014, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District issued a surprising decision, finding that even if an applicant maintains that it is accepting imposed permit conditions “under protest” and expressly...more

‘Tis The Season For Nativity Scenes & Satanic Displays: Happy Holidays from RLUIPA Defense

Ah the holiday season—a time for family, friends and overeating. While most individuals grapple with balancing a love for holiday treats and some modicum of self-control, the Nation is faced with a perennial balancing act:...more

California Supreme Court to Review Denial of Homeowner’s Private Beach Access

In the case of Lynch v. California Coastal Commission (D064120; Cal.App.4th 658; San Diego Superior Court; 37-2011-00058666-CU-WM-NC), the California Supreme Court has granted a petition for review of the decision by the...more

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”)...more

Utah Prairie Dog Could Narrow Endangered Species Act

A Utah federal court has created the potential for a constitutional showdown that could result in a significant narrowing of the Endangered Species Act and further limiting Congress’ power to legislate. In an unprecedented...more

Kennesaw Reverses Course and Approves Mosque

Earlier this month, we reported that Kennesaw, Georgia’s City Council voted 4 to 1 to deny a land use application by Suffa Dawat Center (the “Center”) to establish an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail...more

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...more

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 &...more

St. Michael, Minnesota’s Cinemagic Theater: Riverside Church’s New Home? No, Says City Council

The City of St. Michael, Minnesota, after several months of negotiations, has denied Riverside Church’s application to modify the City’s General Business Zoning District (“GBD”). The zoning amendment would have allowed...more

City SLAPPs Away Landlord's Section 1983 Claim

Anti-SLAPP motions provide defendants with a valuable tool to dispose of meritless cases that stifle protected speech . In Squires v. City of Eureka (October 17, 2014, A138768; A139849) ___Cal. App.4th___ [14 Cal. Daily Op....more

What’s a “Similarly Situated” Comparator under RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision? Florida Federal Court Explains in Finding Against...

Few courts have identified what it means to be a “similarly situated” comparator under RLUIPA’s equal terms provision. Recently, in Church of Our Savior v. City of Jacksonville, (M.D. FL 2014), a federal court in Florida...more

A Gun in Every Home, But Not a Mosque on Every Corner: RLUIPA Lawsuit on the Way?

On December 1, the Kennesaw, Georgia City Council voted 4 to 1 to deny a land use application by Suffa Dawat Center (the “Center”) to establish an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail shopping plaza....more

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 &...more

Sale of Property for Secular Use Does Not Constitute “Religious Exercise”

The Northern District of California recently dismissed RLUIPA claims filed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (the “Conference”) against the City of San Francisco. The case revolves around the...more

The Unintended Effects of Protecting the Environment – How Banning Fracking Can Lead San Benito County To Bankruptcy

On November 4, 2014, San Benito County voters went to the poles to vote on Measure J, the measure designed to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and related gas and oil extraction activities, as well as other...more

What CEQA Gives, The Legislature Can Take Away: Third District Holds Special Legislation For Sacramento Kings Downtown Arena...

The Third District Court of Appeal, in a published opinion filed November 20, 2014, affirmed the trial court’s order denying plaintiffs’ application for a preliminary injunction seeking to halt construction of a massive new...more

Opponents of Arena Project Foul Out

On November 20, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal (Court) handed a partial victory to the City of Sacramento (City), rejecting petitioners' appeal and thereby authorizing the continued construction of the Sacramento...more

Pa. Gas Utility May Use Eminent Domain to Supply Private Power Plant

A Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, judge recently authorized a natural gas public utility to use its eminent domain power in condemning easements for the construction and maintenance of a pipeline to supply gas to a private...more

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...more

Real Estate and Land Use - November 2014

Change of Heart – Court of Appeal Reverses Opinion in Bowman v. California Coastal Commission - Why it matters: The court in Bowman originally held that a permit condition could not be modified or deleted by a second...more

Denton Becomes First Texas City to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 59 percent of voters elected to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracing”) in the city of Denton, which sits on top of the hydrocarbon-rich Barnett Shale. Although the ban does not...more

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...more

Utah Federal Court Strikes Down as Unconstitutional a Regulation Under the Endangered Species Act Protecting Utah Prairie Dogs on...

The Utah Prairie Dog is a species that exists only in Utah, where it lives on both federal and private land. The species is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, and a federal regulation...more

District Court Strikes Down Regulation of Purely Intrastate Species on Private Land

In a significant Endangered Species Act case, the Utah District Court has ruled that Congress may not regulate take of the threatened Utah prairie dog, a purely intrastate species, on non-federal land. The court found that...more

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