Thursday, June 16, 2022

New Jersey Township Settles RLUIPA Zoning Case With DOJ

The Department of Justice announced yesterday that a proposed Consent Order (full text) has been filed with a New Jersey federal district court in United States v. Township of Jackson, (D NJ, filed 6/15/2022). According to the Justice Department:

[The order] would resolve a lawsuit the United States filed in May 2020 alleging that the Township and Planning Board passed zoning ordinances that broadly prohibited religious schools and banned schools with dormitories, both of which are important to providing religious education within the Orthodox Jewish community. The complaint alleged that the intent of the ordinances was to prevent Orthodox Jewish schools from opening in the Township and thereby dissuade members of that community from living in or moving to Jackson....

The consent order requires Jackson Township to repeal the remaining active discriminatory ordinance and replace it with an ordinance that will allow religious elementary and secondary schools, religious higher learning institutions and religious residential schools. The consent order also requires that the new zoning ordinance treat religious schools equally with non-religious institutions that operate in the Township.

Also, the Township must pay a $45,000 civil penalty and pay $150,000 into a settlement fund.