Justice Department Settles Claims Against Toms River over Zoning Code that Restricts Houses of Worship
NEWARK, N.J (STL.News) The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, to resolve allegations that the township violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), by severely restricting where houses of worship can locate within its jurisdiction.
The proposed consent decree, which was filed today in the U.S. District Court of the District of New Jersey and must still be approved by the court, would resolve a lawsuit the United States also filed today alleging that the township’s zoning code places unreasonable limits on where religious assemblies and institutions may locate, substantially burdens religious exercise, and treats religious assemblies and institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies and institution.
“Federal law protects religious communities against unequal treatment and unwarranted burdens,” Rachael A. Honig, Acting U.S. Attorney for District of New Jersey, said. “Zoning regulations that impose unreasonable restrictions or prevent religious faiths from having a place to worship violate RLUIPA. Through the resolution entered today, this office takes another step to put an end to unlawful zoning practices and vindicate the civil rights of minority religious communities in the District of New Jersey.”
“RLUIPA protects people of all faiths in their right to exercise their religion,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S.