Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Michigan Church Sues Claiming RLUIPA and Constitutional Violations In Zoning Law

A lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Michigan yesterday challenging a rezoning ordinance adopted by Inkster, Michigan which prevented a church from renovating fire-damaged buildings and locating a church and parochial school on property the it owned in an area zoned as a business district. The complaint (full text) in T.C. Spann Bible Institute v. City of Inkster, (ED MI, filed 7/18/2011), alleges violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act as well as numerous provisions of the state and federal Constitutions-- including the free exercise clause and a claim that the city's excessively burdensome regulations amounted to a regulatory taking of the church's property. The complaint contends, among other things, that:
The Inkster Code effectively prohibits... any ... religious organization from locating their church and parochial school in Inkster unless such organization meets a series of burdensome Special Conditions, which apply only to churches and parochial schools.
The complaint asks for damages of $1.5 million on each of ten counts. [Thanks to Brian D. Wassom for the lead.]