Judge stops Murfreesboro mosque construction, holding inadequate notice given for planning commission meeting

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

A Tennessee Chancery Court judge yesterday issued an opinion that stops, at least temporarily, the ongoing construction of a controversial mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  In 2011, the court dismissed all the challenges to the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission’s approval of building plans for the mosque, but allowed plaintiffs to move ahead with their claim that the county violated the Open Meetings Act when it publicized the Planning Commission meeting only in the Murfreesboro Post. (See prior posting.) Now in Fisher v. Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission(TN Chancery, May 29, 2012), the court held that given the importance of the issue to be discussed at the the Planning Commission meeting, the county had given inadequate public notice of it. Reporting on the decision,The Tennessean says that the Commission can still reconsider the issue after proper notice, and again approve the mosque plans. After the state court decision, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for the U.S. Justice Department to step in. In a press release, CAIR said: “the judge used phrases and reasoning which could be viewed as indicating that a higher degree of public notice is required for issues related to Tennessee Muslims.