Monday, September 07, 2015

Catholic Diocese Can Move To Trial In 20-Year Battle To Create A Cemetery

Last week, a New York federal district court came down with another decision in the battle-- waged since 1994-- by the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York to develop the Queen of Peace Cemetery in the Long Island village of Old Westbury.  The cemetery, which would be on a vacant 97-acre parcel that was once a horse farm, has already been the subject of extensive state court litigation. At issue in this lawsuit are restrictions imposed by the Village under its Places of Worship (POW) zoning law.  In Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York v. Incorporated Village of  Old Westbury, (ED NY, Sept. 3, 2015), the court rejected a facial constitutional challenge to the POW law as well as a RLUIPA equal terms claim.  A 2011 federal court decision rejected various other federal and state claims. (See prior posting.), However last week's decision allowed the Diocese to proceed to trial on a RLUIPA substantial burden claim, an as-applied constitutional challenge to the POW law, a First Amendment Free Exercise claim, a retaliation claim and a claim for unlawful search of the cemetery site by a village official. New York Law Journal today has more background on the case.