When Does RLUIPA Prevent Review of Land Use Applications?
The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court ruled this summer that the Legion of Christ, Inc., a religious organization that operates a private college, must comply with local zoning. The court held the Religious Land Use and Institutionialized Persons Act (RLUIPA) was not violated by requiring a religious organization, operating a private college, to follow the same land use application process as a secular organization.
This is similar to the issues being raised in the case presently being heard in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York involving the Westchester Day School and the Village of Mamaroneck. The non-jury trial revolves around an application that has been pending for approximately four years to allow for the expansion of a day school operated by a religious group. The group claims that the failure to approve the expansion of the school substantially effects religious practice. The Village claims that the school seeks to enlarge in order to deliver secular classes and that these secular activities are not protected by RLUIPA.
Whatever the outcome the matter is likely to find its way to a higher court.