Zoning, Planning & Land Use Constitutional Law

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Did the Sixth Circuit Unintentionally Adopt an RLUIPA Equal Terms Test?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently issued its decision in Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington, in which it reversed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the...more

Church and New Jersey Township Nearing Settlement of Religious Lawsuit

We previously reported about the federal lawsuit filed by Christian Community Chapel against the Township of Hillsborough, New Jersey, in which the Township denied the Chapel’s variance requests to use a 14.3 acre property as...more

Oakley to Condemn Century-Old Building for Street Widening Project

As cities become more dense and urbanized, it is common for infrastructure to get outdated or insufficient to handle increased demand. We see this with roads, highways, schools, and even utilities. When new infrastructure...more

Muslim Group Rejects New Jersey Township’s Offer to Resubmit Mosque Application

Bernards Township, New Jersey has invited the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge to resubmit an application to develop a mosque. Earlier this year, the Township denied the Islamic Society’s application for a 4,250 square foot...more

Stay in your Lane: Three Recent, Significant Rulings Enforce State and Federal Separation of Powers

Builders and contractors may be interested to learn that, in the past few days, the Supreme Courts of Texas capitoland Colorado, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit have issued significant rulings addressing the...more

Fracking Scores with Two Colorado Supreme Court Opinions

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a hotly debated topic in many states. In New York and Pennsylvania, anti-fracking groups have obtained a statewide ban on fracking and the allowance of local authority to regulate...more

Update: California Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Today, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Property Reserve v. Superior Court case. Today was also the day the Court began showing live webcasts of oral arguments online, so I was able to not only hear...more

Ninth Circuit Agrees That Prohibition on the Possession and Distribution of Cannabis Does Not Violate RFRA

Founder and president of Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii, Inc. (“Oklevueha”), Michael Rex “Raging Bear” Mooney, filed suit in 2009 against various federal officials in the Federal District Court of Hawaii.  Mooney...more

City of Perris v. Stamper Oral Arguments Are Next Week

If you are an eminent domain junkie like us, then you will appreciate knowing that the City of Perris v. Stamper case (S213468) will be heard by the California Supreme Court on May 5, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in San Francisco. As a...more

Landmark Discrimination Case: Fair Housing Act Thwarts NIMBYs - Avenue 6E Investments, LLC v. City of Yuma (March 25, 2016)

Why It Matters: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision in favor of the City of Yuma, Arizona, and concluded instead that there was sufficient evidence to present to a jury that the City had rejected the...more

Religious Institutions Update: May 2016

Timely Topics - Has your nonprofit received a donation for a restricted purpose that has become impractical, impossible to achieve, wasteful or even unlawful? A donor may restrict a contribution to a charity for a...more

Homeowners Cannot Recover for Blocked Views of Hollywood Sign

One of the most valuable assets many homeowners enjoy is their property’s view. If the government undertakes an activity that eliminates or obstructs that view, is an owner entitled to relief? In Boxer v. City of Beverly...more

10th Circ.: Permit Issuance Is Not State Action For Purposes of 14th Amendment

On April 19, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Wasatch Equality, et al., v. Alta Ski Lifts Company, et al., affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that the U.S. Forest Service, in...more

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Not a Religion, Says Federal Court

We don’t often report on RLUIPA prisoner cases (recall, that RLUIPA applies in the land use and prison contexts). But a recent federal decision in Nebraska – Cavanaugh v. Bartelt (D. Nebraska 2016), is just too good to pass...more

Alabama Sex Offender Religious Land Use Case To Proceed

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama has ruled that Ricky Martin may proceed with his religious land use and other claims against the Chilton County District Attorney Randall Houston. The Middle...more

“All Aboriginal Peoples”: SCC Rules Non-Status Indians and Métis are “Indians” under the Constitution

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a unanimous decision in Daniels v Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development), 2016 SCC 12 declaring that non-status Indians and Métis are “Indians” under s 91(24) of the...more

Children’s Crusade to Combat Climate Change Continues

A federal magistrate judge in Oregon has kept alive the dreams of a group of young plaintiffs—aided by environmental advocacy groups—to compel government action against climate change. Like a similar case brought by the same...more

Chabad Files RLUIPA Suit Against Toms River, New Jersey

Rabbi Moshe Gourarie and the Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River Inc. (the “Center”) have sued the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (“ZBA”) in the Federal District Court of New...more

Beyond the Bathroom: North Carolina’s H.B. 2 Also Flushes Local Employee Protections

The recent enactment of North Carolina’s H.B. 2, known as the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” (the “Act”) has received widespread attention for its controversial restrictions on the use of certain...more

5 Things I Learned From APA’s National Conference in Phoenix

I just returned from the American Planning Association’s National Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I look forward to this conference every year to get together with planners from across the country, eat some local food, and...more

Texas Supreme Court: Improper Application of Project-Influence Rule Resulted in Harmful Error

The Texas Constitution provides that “[n]o person’s property shall be taken, damaged or destroyed for or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made.” Tex. Const. art. I, § 17. The Texas Supreme Court has...more

Unraveling the Property Right of Access to Roadways

For owners, “access” to abutting or surrounding roadways is essential to their property. Without it a piece of property is “landlocked” and thus has little, if any, economic utility. Private property owners want good access...more

Property Reserve Case Set for Oral Argument

The California Supreme Court announced today that the Property Reserve case will be heard on May 3, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in San Francisco. (I’m assuming this is not an April Fool’s joke, since eminent domain attorneys have...more

Gas Company May Challenge Local Ordinance Prohibiting Deposit of Flowback Water into Underground Injection Wells

A Federal Magistrate Judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that an oil and gas exploration company may challenge a township ordinance that makes it unlawful to deposit flowback water into underground injection wells within the...more

Be Safe, Get Your Standing Evidence in Early

A Land Use Practitioner representing opposition intervenors in a quasi-judicial land use matter is best served to present any evidence of special damages during the quasi-judicial hearing in order to preserve standing for...more

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