Monday, January 10, 2011

Suit Challenges Zoning Restrictions On New Jersey Synagogue

A long-simmering zoning dispute between an Orthodox Jewish congregation and officials in Teaneck, New Jersey (see prior posting) last month matured into a lawsuit.  The complaint (full text) in 554 Queen Anne Road, Inc. v. Teaneck Board of Adjustment, (NJ Super. Ct., filed 12/17/2010) alleges that restrictions placed on use of a property for religious worship by zoning authorities are vague, largely have no relation to land use objectives and are more onerous than restrictions placed on comparable secular and religious institutions. The dispute began as one over whether a house, used as a home by the rabbi of Etz Chaim of Teaneck, had been turned into a house of worship that needed zoning approval when religious services were moved from the living room to the family room. The synagogue agreed to apply for Board of Adjustment approval of use of the family room addition as a house of worship. However  the Board placed conditions on its use that the synagogue found unacceptable. Plaintiffs argue that the conditions imposed by the Board of Adjustment on Etz Chaim Synagogue violate the U.S. and New Jersey's constitutions, RLUIPA and New Jersey zoning laws. [Thanks to Thomas Rockland for the lead.]