Zoning, Planning & Land Use Constitutional Law

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Department of Justice Sues Bensalem Township, PA Over Mosque Denial

On July 21, the United States Department of Justice sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, in federal court alleging violations of each of RLUIPA’s provisions following the Township’s 2014 denial of a variance application...more

California’s Precondemnation Right of Entry Statutes Upheld — With a Slight Judicial Tweak

For the last two-plus years, we have been waiting for guidance from the California Supreme Court on whether public agencies could utilize the statutory “right of entry” procedure to gain access to private property to conduct...more

Sikh Temple files suit after Oyster Bay, NY ordered it to stop work and then required SEQRA review

Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center, Inc. (the “Temple”), on June 29, 2016 in the Eastern District of New York, sued the Town of Oyster Bay, New York, the Town Board, and several Town Officials (together, the “Defendants”) after...more

Michigan Township Prevails on Federal Religious Discrimination Claims

A federal court in Michigan has ruled that Genoa Charter Township did not violate federal law in denying a church’s application for a special use permit to operate a religious school. Livingston Christian Schools (LSC)...more

D.C. Circuit Holds Informational Standing Nonexistent Prior to 12-Month Finding

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the dismissal of an environmental organization’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) claim, concluding that the organization lacked standing...more

Court Decision Dismisses Challenge to Gun Lake Band’s Trust Land

Last Friday, July 15, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the constitutionality of the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act. Because the Court agreed with the D.C. District Court's finding of constitutionality, it...more

Eminent Domain in California – What You Should Know and What You Can Do BEFORE the Government Comes to Take Your Property

Public development and infrastructure projects are on the rise in California. This is a good thing for the economy. InfrastructureBut it also means that private property will often be needed to complete these projects. Public...more

Controversy Over Interior’s Trust Authority in Alaska Remains Unresolved

A majority panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently dismissed the State of Alaska’s challenge to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s authority to acquire land in trust for Alaska...more

If You Build It, They Will Get Just Compensation

One thousand nine hundred fifty-four (1,954) miles: the length of the United States’ border with Mexico, and the possible future site for President Donald Trump’s infamous Great Wall. The Wall has been a calling card of the...more

Coal Plant Shutdowns: Operators Need to Manage Community Relationships

Imagine this scenario: A company operates a coal ash landfill. Local citizens protest and organize an advocacy group against it and create a Facebook page. The company responds by suing the individual members of the group for...more

Ninth Circuit Rejects Hawaii Cannabis Ministry’s RFRA Challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently upheld the convictions of two ministers of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry who admitted using and distributing large quantities of cannabis in accordance with their...more

Sewer Connection Must Be By The Least Restrictive Means

Barbara L. Yoder and Joseph I. Yoder (“Owners”) own a home in Sugar Grove Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”), which has a mandatory sewer connection ordinance (the “Ordinance”), requiring connection to the Sugar Grove Area...more

Supreme Court Update: U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers V. Hawkes (15-290), Johnson V. Lee (15-789), Lynch V. Arizona (15-8366) And...

As we settle into June, the Eight seem to be clearing out the less difficult decisions in preparation for what could be a messy end to the term, given some controversial issues (abortion, affirmative action, immigration) and...more

D.C. Circuit Holds Injury Exists Where Statutory Enactment Denies Plaintiff’s Right to Information; Upholds Section 9 Exemption...

On June 3, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held in Friends of Animals v. Jewell (No. 1:14-cv-00357) that Plaintiff Friends of Animals (“Plaintiff”) had Article III standing to pursue a constitutional...more

Cemetery Association Not Substantially Burdened by Coastal Area Review

Woodland Cemetery Association (the “Association”) appealed the Zoning Board of the City Stamford, Connecticut’s denial of an application to make several improvements to an existing cemetery within a “coastal area” regulated...more

The Supreme Court - May 2016 #4

The Supreme Court of the United States issued decisions in three cases on May 31, 2016: Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes, No. 15-290: Three mining companies sought a permit under the Clean Water Act seeking to...more

DOJ Investigating Possible RLUIPA Violation in Toms River, New Jersey

Earlier this year, we reported on the lawsuit filed by Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River, Inc. against the Township of Toms River, New Jersey.  The Center challenges the Township’s decision that it must obtain a variance to...more

Indiana Church Files Religious Discrimination Suit Over Nearby Dairy Farm Approval

For the past 30 years, Harvest Christian Camp has provided a summer camp for thousands of Christian children on a 36 acre site in Henry County, Indiana, in accordance with its religious beliefs to “help[] children and teens...more

Scottsdale, Arizona Bars Satanic Temple Prayer

The Satanic Temple has had a busy year in Arizona.  Earlier this year, we reported that the Phoenix City Council abolished its 65-year practice of beginning council meetings with prayer in favor of a moment of silence,...more

A flood of amici support the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

Recently, we reported that Bernards Township, New Jersey (the “Township”) had invited the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (“ISBR”) to resubmit an application to develop a mosque. Previously, the Township denied the Islamic...more

When Land Use Regulations Collide With the Protections of the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment states that “[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In District of Columbia v. Heller, the...more

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

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