United States v. Bernards Township (D. N.J.)

Overview: 

 

On May 30, 2017, the United States entered into an agreement with Bernards Township in United States v. Bernards Township (D. N.J.), which alleged that Bernards Township and its Planning Board violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when the Planning Board denied site plan approval to allow the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (“ISBR”) to build a mosque where places of worship were permitted to locate. The complaint, which was filed on November 22, 2016, alleged that Bernards Township’s denial of approval for the mosque discriminated against the ISBR based on its religion and the religion of its members, applied standards and procedures on the ISBR that it had not applied to other religious and non-religious assemblies in the past, and, imposed a substantial burden on the ISBR’s religious exercise. The complaint also alleged that the township violated RLUIPA by amending its zoning ordinance in a manner that imposes unreasonable limitations on religious assemblies. Under the agreement, Bernards Township has agreed to approve the site development plan for the mosque, and modify its zoning code to permit houses of worship to be built on four acre lots or more, subject to the United States’ approval for additional criteria. An agreement was also reached with the private plaintiff to resolve an independent but related suit. Pursuant to that agreement, the Townhship has agreed to pay $3.5 million in damages.

 

press release (11/22/16)

press release (5/30/17)

Case Open Date: 
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Case Name: 
United States v. Bernards Township (D. N.J.)
Topic: 
Civil Rights
Tags: 
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
RLUIPA
planning board
Islamic Society of Basking Ridge
ISBR
Mosque
Islamic
place of worship
religion
zoning
standards and procedures
substantial burden
religious exercise
unreasonable limitations
New Jersey
Bernards Township Planning Board
3:16-cv-08700-MAS-LHG
Industry Code: 
None
Component: 
Civil Rights - Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Updated May 30, 2017