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New Jersey

• A New Jersey court addressed the difficult question of zoning restrictions on church construction in residential areas. A local Jehovah's Witnesses congregation purchased a 59-acre tract and applied for approval to construct a 1500-seat hall in a rural township having a population of 1200. Churches were permitted uses in the township at the time of the application. However, while the application was pending, the township amended its zoning ordinance by placing the entire 59-acre tract in an "R-2" zone and then excluding churches as a permitted use in such zones. The congregation sued, claiming that the zoning amendments were "arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, and unlawful," and that they constituted "unlawful discrimination directed against the religious beliefs" of Jehovah's Witnesses and that they violated the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom. A trial court agreed, ...

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  • September 1, 1988