|Case Forum:||United States District Court (Western District)|
|Keywords:||Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), strict scrutiny, substantial burden, special use permit|
Kenneth Sparks | Bauckham, Sparks, Rolfe, Lohrstorfer & Thall, P.C. | 458 W South Street | Kalamazoo MI 49007 | 269-382-4500
Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
RLUIPA applies, in pertinent part, to land use regulations involving an “individualized assessment” of property use which impose a “substantial burden” on free exercise of religion. RLUIPA does not define “substantial burden.” While the courts have uniformly found a “substantial burden” on religious exercise where compliance with the challenged law or practice violates a person’s religious beliefs and may subject him/her to criminal sanction or the loss of a significant governmental privilege or benefit, they have been reluctant to find a
ORDER AND JUDGMENT
In accordance with the opinion entered this date, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that a DECLARATORY JUDGMENT is entered in favor of Plaintiff Living Water Church of God, d/b/a Okemos Christian Center declaring that the Township’s denial of Plaintiff’s application for an SUP to construct a building in excess of 25,000 square feet violated Plaintiff’s rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Township is ENJOINED from preventing Plaintiff from proceeding with the construction of a school and church building on its property in conformity with its 2003 request for a special use permit.
|MSC requested LDF amicus brief?||No|
Plaintiff Living Water Church of God is the owner of a six acre parcel of land in Meridian Charter Township, located at 2630 Bennett Road. The property is zoned RA, single family residential, medium density. Under the Meridian Township Zoning Ordinance a religious or educational institution is permitted in a residential zone only if a Special Use Permit is obtained. The Township Ordinance requires a separate and additional Special Use Permit to build a building larger than 25,000 square feet.