Not a member but want to buy a copy? You'll need to create a free My APA account to purchase. Create account
Since it was signed into law in 2000, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) has forced municipalities to rethink the way they plan for and zone religious institutions, as well as the manner in which they review discretionary applications regarding the siting or expansion of religious facilities. Court decisions have provided some guidance as to what is and what is not acceptable under the law, but these cases are often fact-specific and leave many questions unanswered.
Courts recognize that even with RLUIPA in place religious institutions are not entitled to locate wherever they want or build whatever they want, and an outcome where a religious institution is denied its preferred location or site plan may be perfectly legal. However, when a municipality denies the requested zoning relief, that decision is subject to serious scrutiny and must be justified by a well-supported planning rationale.
This issue of Zoning Practice explains why sound planning has become the best defense to a RLUIPA challenge and discusses what constitutes sound planning in the context of RLUIPA.
About the Authors