Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Church Awarded $1.35M For Loss Stemming From Overbroad Zoning Restriction

In Riverside Church v. City of  St.Michael, (D MN, May 22, 2017), a Minnesota federal district court awarded damages of $1,354,595 to a church which was prevented by city zoning ordinances from acquiring a vacant movie theater building and use it for worship services.  The court concluded that the church's free speech rights were infringed because the zoning ordinance, while addressing significant government interests relating to traffic control, was not narrowly tailored.  Ultimately the city amended its zoning ordinance to allow purchase of the theater building, but by then its purchase price had increased by $1.29 million, a price which the church could not afford to pay.  The court refused to award the church damages against the city for defamation. (See prior related posting.)