Zoning challenge fails under RLUIPA but succeeds on other grounds

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In New England Prayer Center, Inc. v. Planning & Zoning Commission of the Town of Easton2012 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3063 (CT Super, Dec. 13, 2012), the New England Prayer Center sought a special permit so it could build a house of worship on land it leased from the town.  The Zoning and Planning Commission granted the permit only with a number of conditions attached. Plaintiff challenged 5 of the conditions. A Connecticut state trial court held that plaintiff had not shown RLUIPA violations, but the court sustained on other grounds plaintiff’s objections to the conditions placed on it. The trial court speculated that plaintiff had purposely made little effort to focus on RLUIPA claims in order to later assert those claims in federal court, as permitted by 42 USC 2000cc-2(c) where there has not been a full and fair adjudication of the claim in state court.