Sunday, September 24, 2006

Church Land Use Denial Arises In Claim Against Army

A recent decision by the United States Court of Federal Claims raises a church land use issue in an unusual setting. Grace Church of Los Alamitos, California was refused a conditional use permit for property it wished to purchase located next to a military air base. The current owners of the property, whose contract to sell the property to Grace Church was conditioned on the Church obtaining a conditional use permit, claimed that a United States Army study of property near the airfield, issued in violation of applicable regulations, caused unfounded public safety concerns by warning that the property was near the airfield's crash zone. The House of Representatives, pursuant to 28 USC 1492, referred the claim to the Court. In Davis v. United States (Ct. Fed. Cl., Sept. 15, 2006), the court found that the Army's study was not a substantial factor in the city's denial of a permit. The city was already aware of the problems flagged by the report. So that there were no damages caused by the Army report and the owners therefore had no valid claim against the United States.