Wednesday, November 08, 2006

7th Circuit Rejects Church's Land Use Claims

Yesterday in Vision Church, United Methodist v. Village of Long Grove, (7th Cir., Nov. 7, 2006), the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Free Expression, Free Exercise and RLUIPA challenges to a requirement that churches need to obtain special use permits to locate in Long Grove, Illinois. It also rejected the church's argument that the village's regulations violate the Establishment Clause by favoring existing religious institutions over new ones. It held that the involuntary annexation of Vision Church's land was not a land use regulation covered by RLUIPA, and that size restrictions imposed on the church did not substantially burden its exercise of religion. It rejected constitutional and statutory claims of unequal treatment and Vision Church's claim that it had a vested right to build under pre-existing zoning rules.