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Land Use and Planning

Requiring a Religious Use to Locate in Another Township Is Not a Substantial Burden Under RLUIPA

A recent decision described herein appears to fix a narrower standard in determining what constitutes a substantial burden on religious exercise under RLUIPA than had been followed in previous decisions.

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The Livingston Christian School (LCS) is a non-denominational religious school that had operated for a number of years. It sought to move to the nearby Township of Genoa, and rented space in a local church. The Town denied a special use permit that was required to operate the school. As a result of the denial, which was by a 4-3 vote, LCS brought an action claiming a violation of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. The District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan awarded summary judgment to the town, and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed in Livingston Christian Sch. v. Genoa Charter Twp., 858 F.3d 996, 998 (6th Cir. 2017). The decision of the court appears to fix a narrower standard in determining what constitutes a substantial burden on religious exercise under RLUIPA than had been followed in previous decisions.

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