Author Topic: Judge Rules New Jersey Town Discriminated Against Citizens Seeking Mosque  (Read 224 times)

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Offline The Latinist

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http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/federal-judge-rules-new-jersey-town-discriminated-years-denied-mosque-n702296

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[A] federal judge ruled Saturday that a New Jersey township discriminated against an Islamic society by applying different parking standards in the group's bid to build a mosque, which the township rejected last January.

[...]

"This property was purchased in November of 2011. The development application was made in April of 2012. At this point, we're coming up on five years," Adeel Abdullah Mangi, an attorney representing the society, told NBC News. "This is a permitted use under the zoning ordinance. This bring the local community one step closer to have a place of their own in this township. That means everything to the local Muslims."

U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp of New Jersey found that the Bernards Township planning board treated the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge differently when it required more parking spots for the proposed mosque than for Christian churches under a ratio of one spot for every three seats.

Shipp also wrote that the 3-to-1 ratio for churches applies equally to mosques and synagogues.

"Viewing the pleadings in the light most favorable to defendants, the court finds that defendants discriminatorily applied the parking ordinance on the basis of religion," Shipp concluded.

[...]

In oral arguments on Dec. 20, township attorney Howard Mankoff denied the board applied different standards based on religion, saying it was instead based on parking needs, according to the court transcript.

During questioning from the judge, Mankoff did say that a mosque is not considered a church under the township definition, adding that "they're different because they have different needs."

So the town has a clear zoning law that requires one parking space for every three seats in a church.  But, after holding 39 hearing over the past year, they denied the application based on a report of a traffic engineer hired by a group that opposes any mosque in the town.  According to the rest of the article, the applicants seem to have bent over backwards to find a compromise to the unreasonable demands only to have every proposal rejected.  Seems pretty straightforward to me.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Online Andrew Clunn

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But shouldn't local governments have the power to set their own zoning laws?

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Offline The Latinist

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But shouldn't local governments have the power to set their own zoning laws?

Certainly they can.  But they need to enforce them equally, without discrimination on the basis of religion.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Desert Fox

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But shouldn't local governments have the power to set their own zoning laws?

Certainly they can.  But they need to enforce them equally, without discrimination on the basis of religion.

The whole goal here seems to be to ban a mosque from being built.
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline The Latinist

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I would also point out that if they did not have an explicitly-defined ratio of seats-to-spaces, the situation might be different.  If they made every religious institution prove the number of seats it needed through professional analysis, it might be harder to conclude discrimination.  But to establish a clear rule for Christian churches and then declare that mosques have to meet entirely different standards is clearly discriminatory.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

 

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