Are there any RLUIPA experts here? While out running this morning I decided to run through a neighborhood I hadn't been in before and came across a gigantic house that was huge even by the standards of this particular neighborhood and street. Well, curiosity got the better of me and I looked up the property information on that city's website (gotta love communities with all of their tax information easily accessible!) and found that it is owned by a ministry group and is exempt from local taxes.
A little more research and I discovered that the closest location for this particular ministry is about 15 miles away. I can understand that a church would claim that a house could be used as the rectory for their clergy, but when it's that far from the actual church, how can that be justified?
I think that it would be hard to claim that housing their minister and his family in this gigantic house 15 miles from their actual church is essential to their religious practice. Maybe I'm just bitter that it's not my house, but I sort of feel like somebody is bilking the system while my fair community is losing out on $82,192.50 in property taxes each year!
(Sure, this 10,000 square foot, multi million dollar home could be used as an orphanage or group home, but let's speculate that it's not.)