Congregation Kollel, Inc. v. Township of Howell, N.J.
02/16/2017: Federal court rules in favor of Congregation Kollel in its suit against Howell Township, N.J., permits most claims to go forward
The court rejected the Township's argument that the congregation must apply for a variance before it can challenge the land use regulation at issue:
Plaintiffs have suffered an immediate injury. This element is easily satisfied since Defendants, based on Plaintiffs’ allegations, were motivated by a religious animus to deprive Plaintiffs of their right to free exercise of religion by imposing land use regulations that violate multiple sections of RLUIPA. If true, Defendants’ alleged discriminatory conduct has caused an immediate and tangible injury; in that, Plaintiffs were prevented from erecting a yeshiva gedola and mesivta on the Ford Property. In that regard, to subject Plaintiffs to an additional variance process would only seek to amplify the harm.
Opinion, Congregation Kollel, Inc. v. Township of Howell, N.J. (D.N.J. Feb. 16, 2017).
A discrimination lawsuit against Howell Township filed by an Orthodox Jewish group seeking to build a school with dormitories can move forward, a federal judge ruled. At issue in the lawsuit is whether Howell's zoning officer and zoning board denied the Lakewood-based Congregation Kollel the right to build a school because of its religious affiliation. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey on May 5, court records show.
K. Kachmar, "Orthodox bias suit against Howell can move ahead," USA Today (Feb. 24, 2017)
11/21/2016: Asbury Park Press reports on S&A lawsuit on behalf of Orthodox Jewish school against Howell, N.J.
A discrimination lawsuit filed against Howell Township by an Orthodox Jewish group seeking to build a religious school with dormitories is on hold while a federal judge determines whether to allow the case to proceed. The dispute concerns whether Howell’s zoning officer and zoning board improperly rejected an application for an educational facility at 344 Old Ford Road, according to the May 5 lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey. The lawsuit alleges the denial was “motivated by hostility toward ultra-Orthodox Jews.”
K. Kachmar, "Orthodox group presses Howell over religious school denial," Asbury Park Press (Nov. 21, 2016)
05/02/2016: S&A files suit on behalf of Jewish congregation against Howell Township for rejecting educationality facility based on its religious curriculum
An Orthodox Jewish congregation has filed a federal lawsuit against Howell Township and its zoning board of adjustment, saying the township's denial of its plan to build a religious education center was motivated by religious "hostility." . . . .
Howell Township Council in May of that year revised land-use requirements that "severely restricted" where schools could be located — a move motivated by "animus toward ultra-Orthodox Jews," it says. Among other things, it says, the revamped ordinance required new schools to provide New Jersey Department of Education-approved curricula, which the religious school could not. Then, in Jauary 2016, the township removed "educational facilities" from the zoning classification that covered the Ford Road property "specifically to target Orthodox Jews in general and the plaintiffs in particular," the lawsuit says.
T. Darragh, "Orthodox congregation sues township over zoning denial," NJ Advance Media (May 4, 2016)