Thursday, June 14, 2018

DOJ Announces New Initiative To Protect Relocation For Religious Institutions

In a press release yesterday, the Department of Justice announced a new Place To Worship Initiative:
[The Initiative] will focus on protecting the ability of houses of worship and other religious institutions to build, expand, buy, or rent facilities....
The Department will work with the United States Attorney’s Offices to strengthen awareness of the land use provisions of RLUIPA by: hosting community outreach events across the country, educating municipal officials and religious organizations about RLUIPA’s requirements, and providing additional training and resources for federal prosecutors.
Along with launching the Initiative, DOJ also announced that it has filed a RLUIPA lawsuit against Borough of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.  The complaint (full text) in United States v. Borough of Woodcliff Lake, (D NJ, filed 6/13/2018), contends that the town imposed a substantial burden on a Chabad synagogue when it denied it a variance to allow it to expand on its current site.  The expansion plans were developed after attempts to acquire other sites were frustrated by the Borough.  New York Post reports on the lawsuit.