Monday, March 23, 2015

Muslim School's Zoning Challenge Dismissed Without Reaching Merits

In Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor v. Pittsfield Charter Township, (ED MI, March 20, 2015), the Michigan Islamic Academy claimed that Pittsfield Township violated the substantial burden, anti-discrimination and equal terms provisions of RLUIPA, as well as the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause, in denying it zoning authorization so it could build a Muslim school. The court dismissed the RLUIPA claims on the basis that plaintiff had no legally cognizable interest in the property.  It merely had a promise from the owner to donate 5 acres for the school if zoning approval was obtained. The court went on to hold that plaintiff's RLUIPA and constitutional claims are not ripe because plaintiff never went beyond the Planning Commission and Township Board to the Zoning Administrator and Zoning Board of Appeals. The court held that plaintiff could continue or refile the suit if these defects are cured. (See prior related posting.).