New Jersey town allowed to zone out

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to review  a much publicized case in which Long Branch zoned a self described mission church out of a downtown area marked for development as an entertainment district.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Lighthouse Institute for Evangelism, Inc. vs. City of Long Branch held that the City’s action did not violate the Federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.   The court said that the church was not being treated unfairly or unequally under the Federal law.   The decision provides clear guidance now to municipalities in New Jersey and the rest of the Third Circuit states to support their zoning powers to permit or not to permit places of religious worship within specified zoning districts.  

One of the interesting issues of the case was that the city had argued Lighthouse Institute for Evangelism, Inc. did not even qualify as a church subject to the protections of the Federal Act.   Questions concerning this article should be directed to Bonnie Wright, Esq. at bwright@hnwlaw.com/.

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