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Zoning - Part 2
Local zoning laws generally allow “churches” in residential areas.

Resource. RLUIPA is addressed fully in a special report by Richard Hammar entitled 'The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act' that is available at www.ChurchLawandTax.com or by calling 1-800-222-1840).

Key point 5-02.1. Local zoning laws generally allow "churches" in residential areas. The courts have struggled with applying this term to various activities and organizations other than traditional congregations meeting in a building for regular worship services.
Key point. The federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act prohibits state and local governments from imposing a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion unless the regulation is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

* A federal court in New Jersey ruled that the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act was possibly violated by a city's refusal to grant a church a conditional use permit to expand its facilities to accommodate a growing congregation. For many years a church held one worship service for its entire congregation. As the congregation grew, the church split the services in two because the sanctuary no longer was large enough to accommodate the entire congregation. The church leadership believed that a single service for the entire congregation was preferable, and so they sought to expand its facilities. The church was located in an R-10 zone, which was a residential zone in which churches and related accessory buildings were permitted as a conditional use only. The church did not meet all of the conditions for the issuance of a conditional permit to expand its facilities, and so it asked the city zoning board for several variances. The zoning board denied the church's application for a conditional use permit, citing increased traffic, light, and noise pollution, a negative impact on the visual landscape of the city, the proposed size of the church's planned structure was out of proportion with the neighborhood, and the proposed expansion's adverse impacts on surface water quality due to impervious coverage. The zoning board stated that "the approval of this application with a facility of its magnitude would essentially change the entire character of the neighborhood from an essentially rural, quiet neighborhood to one of an entirely different character.'

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