Friday, August 26, 2016

Denial of Zoning Variance To Yeshiva Violates RLUIPA

In Yeshiva Gedolah Na'os Yaakov v. Township of Ocean NJ, (D NJ, Aug. 25, 2016), a New Jersey federal district court held that that Ocean, New Jersey's Zoning Board of Adjustment violated RLUIPA when it denied a use variance to allow plaintiffs to operate a Jewish post-high school yeshiva.  Making findings about the school's code of conduct for its students, the court ordered the township to grant approval of use of the building for a school of up to 80 students (less than the 96 the school wanted), subject to a detailed list of improvements and changes to the property. Reporting on the decision, Asbury Park Press quoted plaintiffs' attorney who said in a prepared statement:
Zoning regulation should never be used as a tool to accommodate the unreasonable fears and prejudice of small-minded individuals desperate to keep a certain population out of their neighborhoods.