Saturday, October 15, 2016

Buddhist Center Can Pursue Misrepresentation and As Applied, But Not Facial, RLUIPA, Challenges [CORRECTED]

In Thai Meditation Association of Alabama v. City of Mobile, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142651 (SD AL, Oct. 12, 2016), an Alabama federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing facial claims under RLUIPA by a Buddhist meditation center whose zoning approval was denied.  The court rejected facial RLUIPA equal terms, discrimination and substantial burden challenges, but allowed plaintiff to proceed on its "as applied" challenges under RLUIPA.  The magistrate judge also recommended allowing plaintiff to move ahead with a negligent misrepresentation claim growing out of a zoning official's assurances that the meditation center would be treated as a house of worship for zoning purposes and that planning approval rather than seeking  use variance was the proper procedure to follow.