United States v. Bensalem Township (E.D. Pa.)

Overview: 

On September 1, 2017, the parties entered a settlement agreement in United States v. Bensalem Township (E.D. Pa.). As part of the agreement, Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania will permit the Bensalem Masjid, a Muslim nonprofit religious organization, to use its property for the purpose of building a mosque. The Township also agreed to review and amend its zoning ordinance to comply with the requirements of RLUIPA and to advise its officials and employees about the requirements of RLUIPA, among other remedial measures. The complaint, which was filed on July 21, 2016, alleged that the Township violated the substantial burden, equal terms, nondiscrimination, and unreasonable limitations provisions of RLUIPA by denying the Bensalem Masjid a use variance to build a mosque on its property. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the Township’s denial of a variance imposed a substantial burden on the Bensalem Masjid’s religious exercise, treated the Bensalem Masjid less favorably than the Township treated nonreligious assemblies, and discriminated against the Bensalem Masjid on the basis of religion. The complaint also alleged that the Township only permitted places of worship on properties zoned as part of the Institutional District, and no properties with that zoning designation were available in that district when the Bensalem Masjid acquired the property.

Press Release (7/21/16)

Press Release (9/5/17)

Case Open Date: 
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Case Name: 
United States v. Bensalem Township (E.D. Pa.)
Topic: 
Civil Rights
Tags: 
RLUIPA
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
Bensalem Masjid
Bucks County
religious assembly
religion
Mosque
Muslim
substantial burden
equal terms
discrimination
unreasonable limitations provisions
variances
zoning
code of ordinances
Pennsylvania code
township
Industry Code: 
None
Component: 
Civil Rights - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Updated September 7, 2017