Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zoning Challenge Dismissed On Younger Abstention Grounds

In Salman v. City of Phoenix, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122387 (D AZ, Oct. 20, 2011), an Arizona federal district court dismissed on Younger v. Harris abstention grounds a challenge to the building code and zoning laws that prevented plaintiffs from using their home and a building on their property for weekly Bible study and prayer sessions with 40 to 50 family and friends.  The city claimed that religious activity within a residence is considered "Church use" and requires the appropriate permits. Pending state court proceedings charging plaintiffs with building code violations, and appeals of other building code and zoning convictions, precluded federal court jurisdiciton over plaintiff's RLUIPA, free exercise, equal protection and other claims.