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Representative Matters

AL MADANY ISLAMIC CENTER OF NORWALK, INC. V. CITY OF NORWALK, CONN. ALBANIAN ASSOCIATED FUND V. TOWNSHIP OF WAYNE, N.J. AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE V. PRISON FELLOWSHIP MINISTRIES BENSALEM MASJID V. BENSALEM TOWNSHIP, PA BERKOWITZ V. EAST RAMAPO CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, N.Y. BETHEL WORLD OUTREACH MINISTRIES V. MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD. BIKUR CHOLIM, INC. V. VILLAGE OF SUFFERN, N.Y. BUDDHIST EDUCATION CENTER OF AMERICA, INC., V. CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. CHABAD JEWISH CENTER OF TOMS RIVER V. TOWNSHIP OF TOMS RIVER, N.J. CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY CHAPEL WESLEYAN CHURCH V. TOWNSHIP OF HILLSBOROUGH CONAWAY V. DEANE CONGREGATION HEICHEL DOVID CONGREGATION KOLLEL, INC. V. TOWNSHIP OF HOWELL, N.J. CONGREGATION MISCHKNOIS LAVIER YAKOV V. BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR THE VILLAGE OF AIRMONT, N.Y. CONGREGATION RABBINICAL COLLEGE OF TARTIKOV V. VILLAGE OF POMONA, N.Y. COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AMERICA V. ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT OF TOWNSHIP OF CEDAR GROVE, N.J. DAYALBAGH RADHASOAMI SATSANG ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA V. TOWNSHIP OF OLD BRIDGE, N.J. EAGLE COVE CAMP & CONFERENCE CENTER V. TOWN OF WOODBORO, WISC. FAITH TEMPLE CHURCH V. TOWN OF BRIGHTON, N.Y. FIRST PENTECOSTAL UNITED HOLY CHURCH V. CITY OF CHESAPEAKE, VIRGINIA FISHERMEN OF MEN CHURCH, APPLICATION OF, D.C. GREAT LAKES SOCIETY V. GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, MICH. GREENWICH REFORM SYNAGOGUE V. TOWN OF GREENWICH, CONN. GURU GOBIND SINGH SIKH CENTER V. TOWN OF OYSTER BAY, N.Y. HARBOR MISSIONARY CHURCH V. CITY OF SAN BUENAVENTURA, CAL. HINDU TEMPLE AND CULTURAL SOCIETY OF USA V. BRIDGEWATER TOWNSHIP, N.J. MOXLEY V. TOWN OF WALKERSVILLE, MD. NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR AMISH RELIGIOUS FREEDOM NAVAJO NATION V. UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE NEW BEGINNINGS CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP V. TOWNSHIP OF BRICK PARAMESWARAN V. MYSOREKAR RIVERDALE BAPTIST CHURCH V. ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD. ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTIAN CHURCH V. BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF BOULDER COUNTY SAHANSRA V. WESTCHESTER COUNTY HEALTH CARE CORPORATION SPIRIT OF ALOHA TEMPLE V. COUNTY OF MAUI ST. JOHN UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST V. INDIANAPOLIS HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION, IND. ST. JOHN´S UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST V. CITY OF CHICAGO THAI MEDITATION ASSOCIATION OF ALABAMA V. CITY OF MOBILE PLANNING COMMISSION THIRD CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST V. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HISTORIC PRESERVATION REVIEW BOARD TROTMAN V. BEN GILMAN SPRING VALLEY MEDICAL AND DENTAL CLINIC VALLEY CHABAD V. BOROUGH OF WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. YESHIVA GEDOLA NA'OS YAAKOV V. OCEAN TWP., N.J.

Albanian Associated Fund v. Township of Wayne, N.J.

10/23/2007: Professor Patricia E. Salkin's take on the federal court's decision in the Albanian Associated Fund's case

The issue the District Court did resolve, however, was whether RLUIPA even applied to the facts in this case. The Township attempted to frame their actions as a condemnation proceeding, arguing that RLUIPA does not apply based on cases from other jurisdictions holding that eminent domain is not a land use. The District Court . . . determined that [the] RLUIPA challenge in this case "does not go to the actual taking, but rather to the implementation of the open space plan which is a land use regulation." . . .

Now that the Court has determined that RLUIPA does apply, I predict a settlement will likely be in cards. The Township will otherwise have to take a chance that a Court will find the preservation of environmentally sensitive areas a compelling governmental interest and that this is the least restrictive means of dealing with it. Since the facts are in dispute, unless and until it is sorted out by the trial court, the opinion indicates that it is unclear what the true motivations of the Township might be.

Township Open Space Plan is a Land Use Regulation Subject to RLUIPA, Law of the Land.

08/26/2007: Albanian Muslims seek OK for site in Wayne

Attorneys for the Paterson-based Albanian group, however, argued the federal law applied because the town wanted to take the property to enforce its land-use policies to preserve open space. The attorneys for the Albanian group also are asking Sheridan to find that preserving open space is not a compelling government interest that trumps the freedom of religious exercise. . . .

A Justice Department official appeared in court Wednesday to back the Albanian groups' discrimination claims. Ryan Lee, a Justice Department attorney, argued that there was "circumstantial evidence of discriminatory intent'' in the township's actions.

Read the story here.

The Justice Department argued, however, that the township's deliberate prolonging of the application process for a permit amounted to the kind of discrimination prohibited by RLUIPA.

Justice Department Supports Muslim Group In Its RLUIPA Lawsuit, Howard Friedman, Religious Clause (July 25, 2007).

07/26/2007: Albanian Muslims seek OK for site in Wayne

Attorneys for the Paterson-based Albanian group, however, argued the federal law applied because the town wanted to take the property to enforce its land-use policies to preserve open space. The attorneys for the Albanian group also are asking Sheridan to find that preserving open space is not a compelling government interest that trumps the freedom of religious exercise. . . .

A Justice Department official appeared in court Wednesday to back the Albanian groups' discrimination claims. Ryan Lee, a Justice Department attorney, argued that there was "circumstantial evidence of discriminatory intent'' in the township's actions.

"Albanian Muslims seek OK for site in Wayne," Andrea Alexander, The Record (July 26, 2007).  Read the story here

The Justice Department argued, however, that the township's deliberate prolonging of the application process for a permit amounted to the kind of discrimination prohibited by RLUIPA.

Justice Department Supports Muslim Group In Its RLUIPA Lawsuit, Howard Friedman, Religious Clause (July 25, 2007).
 

07/25/2007: S&G argues Albanian Associated Fund case in Newark

S&G argues Albanian Associated Fund case in Newark (July 25, 2007): Roman Storzer today argued that the Township of Wayne's attempted seizure of the AAF's land, slated for a mosque, is unconstitutional. (S&G had previously obtained a preliminary injunction preventing the taking.) Also joining the argument was an attorney from the United States Department of Justice, which submitted a brief amicus curiae, arguing that there was sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that "the Township commenced eminent domain proceedings against the Mosque to thwart the Mosque's application for a CUP and thereby appease residents hostile to the Mosque." A decision is expected in September.

07/24/2007: "U.S. backs lawsuit against Wayne"

The U.S. Department of Justice said the township's actions against the Paterson-based Albanian Associated Fund bore the "classic trademarks'' of discrimination. In court papers, the government said there was reason to conclude the township tried to take the property for open space to stop members of the fund from building a mosque and community center in the township.

"The Albanian Fund simply wants to be left alone," said Roman Storzer, the attorney representing the group in federal court. "They bought a property where a church is a permitted use, and the township has been doing everything in their power to prevent them from building a mosque.''

"U.S. backs lawsuit against Wayne," Andrea Alexander, The Record (July 24, 2007).  Read the story here

07/19/2007: United States Department of Justice files brief supporting S&G client Albanian Associated Fund in RLUIPA lawsuit

The environmental nature of Mosque’s land was of no specific concern to the Township until after the Mosque filed its CUP application. As mentioned above, the Township did not deem the Mosque’s land too environmentally sensitive to be developed in 1987 or 1994. However, once the Mosque submitted a CUP application, the Township “became a bundle of activity.” Id. There is evidence that shows the Planning Board departed from its usual practice and decided to withhold approval of the CUP until all outstanding matters were resolved, and twenty hearings and three years were not sufficient to permit it to render a resolution on the merits. The Township enacted an Open Space Ordinance and formed an Open Space Committee that, contrary to the directive of the Ordinance, operated under a rule of thumb that targeted the Mosque’s land for acquisition. The Township Council subsequently commenced eminent domain proceedings to take the Mosque’s land for open space, even though it has never before condemned property for this reason. Like the court in Cottonwood, the finder of fact could conclude that the Township’s claim that it commenced eminent domain proceedings to preserve the Mosque’s land for open space “rings hollow” and that in reality the Township was “simply trying to keep [the Mosque] out of the [Township], or at least from the use of its own land.

Read the United States’ brief here. The case against the Township of Wayne continues, with a hearing scheduled for July 25, 2007.

11/03/2006: Faith and zoning, Editorial, The Record

The Albanian group first filed a development application in late 2002 and has since gone through numerous Planning Board hearings. Then suddenly this spring the township announced it would try to buy the site through eminent domain...

Wayne can argue that the township does not have bias. It also does not have an Albanian mosque.

Faith and zoning, Editorial, The Record (Nov. 3, 2006).

11/01/2006: Federal Court issues injunction preventing the taking of religious propert

On November 1, 2006, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted a preliminary injunction protecting mosque property from eminent domain proceedings. Judge Peter G. Sheridan ordered the Township of Wayne, N.J. to cease efforts to seize the AlbanianAssociated Fund's 11-acre site on November 1, 2006.

"Critically important constitutional rights are at stake here," said Roman P. Storzer, attorney for AAF, "Protecting open space is a laudable goal, but it should not be used as a pretense for appeasing local hostility to a minority group."

Press release available here. The Record story available here.

07/19/2006: "Muslim group sues N.J. town over effort to build mosque"

The federal lawsuit by the Albanian Associated Fund accused Wayne of violating religious protections in the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions, as well as a 2000 federal law (RLUIPA) designed to protect religious institutions against discrimination in land-use applications. . . .

“AAF is not asking for special consideration,” said one of the group's lawyers, Roman P. Storzer. “This group is entitled to the same protections of the law as any church or synagogue.”  The lawsuit charged that the unreasonable delay before eminent-domain proceedings began cost the Muslim group three and a half years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The First Amendment Center's story on Albanian Associated Fund v. Township of Wayne.

07/17/2006: Muslim Association sues Township of Wayne, N.J. for attempted seizure of its land

On July 17, 2006, the Albanian Associated Fund, which owns property in Wayne Township that it has been attempted to build on for four years, filed suit in federal district court in order to prevent the taking of its property.

Media Release, Storzer & Greene/The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (July 17, 2006)

Muslim group sues town over effort to build mosque, Newsday (July 18, 2006)

"AAF is not asking for special consideration," said one of their lawyers, Roman P. Storzer. "This group is entitled to the same protections of the law as any church or synagogue."

Wayne sued by Muslim group, The West Milford Messenger (July 27, 2006)

Muslim Group Fights for Mosque, The Record (July 19, 2006)

"The township is trying to accommodate the hostilities of the local residents in their efforts to prevent the mosque from locating here," Storzer said in an interview."

Muslim group sues N.J. town over effort to build mosque, First Amendment Center (July 19, 2006)

Muslim Group Sues Town Over Effort to Build Mosque, WNBC (July 19, 2006)

Mosques Sues Wayne Township (NJ) Over Attempted Land-Grab, Al-Jazeerah (July 19, 2006)

Muslim group sues town over effort to build mosque, WABC-TV (July 18, 2006)