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Thread: Religion and zoning

  1. #1
    Feb 2007
    Cambridge, MA

    Religion and zoning

    I've run across two interesting articles in this week's news, both about local/county governments denying special permits to religious institutions for developing religious use structures.

    San Francisco Chronicle: Christian school loses case based on religion

    Hartford Courant: Town vs. Buddhists

    Both articles refer to the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act which apparently limits the power of local permitting boards to restrict development that would interfere with religious practice. I don't know anything about this act and am wondering if folks at Cyburbia have any experience with it and which people's opinions are? As a default I tend to fear the intrusion of government in to any religious affairs, but as a planner I understand that some uses (religious or otherwise) simply aren't appropriate in certain areas.

    What do folks think about these?

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
    Feb 2007
    The Castle Aaaargh
    We ran up against a local church and Pastor that were citing RLUIPA for their low power broacast antennae. Their attorney had been in contact with a national Legal effort intersted in finding out how far they could push the Law. Neighbors were livid, with specters of phone interferrence, etc. We were told by our attorney that we couldn't win any controls over the tower. The church ultimately did not want to become the test case for the Nationals, so we worked out a smaller pole in a less conspicuous place.

    I always felt we could control the church's desired outcomes if the issue were important enough. We couldn't get our attornies to agree, at least not in the described case. I am not sure an antennae tower is the case anyone wanted resolved in court.

    I still think it had an impact on the threats on my job that led to my leaving (I was the Director). c'est la vie.


  4. #4
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
    Jan 2006
    Yo momma's house!
    I think you'll find that most church officials think they are exempt from every law on the books, especially zoning. It's comical.

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