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Case

United States v. Township of Toms River, NJ (D. N.J.)

Overview

On March 10, 2021, the United States filed a complaint and a proposed consent order in United States v. Township of Toms River, NJ (D. N.J.). The complaint alleges that Toms River violated RLUIPA by enacting zoning regulations which place unreasonable limits on where religious assemblies and institutions may locate, substantially burden religious exercise, and treat religious assemblies and institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies and institution. The complaint alleges that since 2009, Toms River has enacted a series of revisions to its zoning code—including a ten-acre parcel minimum requirement—which greatly reduced both the number of zoning districts in which houses of worship can locate and the number of sites available for houses of worship. These restrictions have had a particular impact on the Township’s Orthodox Jewish population, who, because of their faith and religious traditions, tend to worship at small houses of worship which they walk to and from on the Sabbath and Holidays.  On March 11, 2021, the court approved the consent order, which requires the Township to revise its zoning code to: reduce the minimum acreage required for a house of worship in many zoning districts from ten acres to two acres; allow houses of worship as-of-right in certain zoning districts; allow smaller houses of worship to be located on minor collector roads; and treat houses of worship on comparable terms to nonreligious places of assembly. The consent order also requires the Township to train its officials and employees on RLUIPA’s requirements and establish a procedure for receiving and resolving RLUIPA complaints. The consent order further requires the Township to train its officials and employees on RLUIPA’s requirements and establish a procedure for receiving and resolving RLUIPA complaints.

Press Release (3/10/21)


Case Open Date
Case Name
United States v. Township of Toms River, NJ (D. N.J.)
Topics
Civil Rights
Tags
  • Religious Land Use and Instituitionized Persons Act
  • RLUIPA
  • Orthodox Jewish
  • house of worship
  • zoning
  • Land Use Regulations
  • substantial
Industry Code(s)
  • None
Updated June 9, 2021