Oregon Court Upholds Decade-Old RLUIPA Ruling

Lawlor, James
August 2005
Planning;Aug/Sep2005, Vol. 71 Issue 8, p47
Trade Publication
The article reports that the Oregon Supreme Court has affirmed a 1994 ruling by the state's court of appeals requiring a church to provide a wider buffer between a proposed meeting-house and nearby residences. It found that the requirement did not impose a "substantial burden" on the exercise of religion, and thus did not violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The state supreme court noted that the drafters of RLUIPA deliberately excluded a definition of substantial burden from the law, stating that the term's interpretation should come from the U.S. Supreme Court precedents. The court did not doubt that the city's denial of a conditional use permit was a burden. The Latter-Day Saints Church would have to submit a new permit application, with either a larger lot or a smaller structure, and that would entail further delay and expense. However, those hardships were not a substantial burden under RLUIPA, the court continued. Siting a large structure often involves multiple applications and changes, along with the related legal, architectural, and engineering costs, it observed.


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