Friday, February 21, 2020

DOJ Sues Nebraska Village For Refusing Building Permits To Church

The Justice Department announced yesterday that it has filed suit in a Nebraska federal district court against the village of Walthill, Nebraska alleging violations of the "substantial burden" and "equal terms" provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.  The complaint (full text) in United States v. Village of Walthill, Nebraska, (D NE, filed 2/20/2020), alleges in part:
This civil action is based on the Village’s unlawful refusal to allow Light of the World Gospel Ministries, Inc...., a non-denominational Christian church, to construct a new place of worship on property it owns in a commercial (“C-1”) district of the Village by denying the Church necessary permits. 
... Since 2007, LOTW has operated religious services out of a small, 1,250 sq. ft. building ... on another lot in the C-1 district. The space is no longer adequate to serve its religious needs, and the unstable condition of a dilapidated building next to the church on the property made the space unsafe. The Village refused to permit LOTW to build its noncommercial religious property in the C-1 district, but has permitted noncommercial nonreligious entities to construct buildings in the C-1 district during the same time period.