Thursday, August 22, 2019

Catholic High School Sues Over Restrictions On Athletic Field Use

A Madison, Wisconsin Catholic high school has filed suit challenging the manner in which the city's zoning code is being applied to the school.  The complaint (full text) in Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart, Inc. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin, (WD WI, filed 8/21/2019), alleges violations of RLUIPA as well as various other federal, state and local constitutional and statutory provisions. Because a master plan filed by the school in connection with the renovation of its athletic field stated that it would be used for team practices and physical education classes, zoning authorities contend that it cannot be used for athletic contests, even though the field had been used for nearly a century to host such games. The complaint alleges:
All of the City’s public high schools and the University of Wisconsin-Madison share the same zoning classification as Edgewood, yet the City is imposing these restrictions on Edgewood alone....
The City has treated Edgewood on less than equal terms with the non-religious institutions located and operating within the City’s Campus-Institutional District. 
 Wisconsin State Journal, reporting on the case, explains:
Edgewood’s attorneys have contended that [the master plan] wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of uses, while residents have suggested games were intentionally left out to allay neighbors frustrated with the increased use of the field since it was upgraded in 2015.
Residents of the surrounding Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood have organized against Edgewood’s attempts to bring further improvements to the field — especially a 2017 plan that would have added stadium seating, lights, a sound system and permanent bathrooms — arguing that the field disrupts their quiet neighborhood. Many put signs in their yard reading, “No new stadium.”