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UPDATE: Department of Justice letter to Toms River Township; Statement from Council

The Toms River Township this evening released the notice of lawsuit letter from the DOJ.

Along with the letter, the Township released the following statement.

Facing the possibility of a potentially costly federal lawsuit, a majority of the Township Council voted at their September 22, 2020 meeting to enter into pre-litigation negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve the Federal Government’s concerns about the Township’s land use regulations pertaining to religious institutions.

Last Thursday, the Justice Department informed the Township that the Attorney General had authorized a lawsuit against the Township alleging that the Township’s zoning ordinances violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). The Department’s notice of suit set a deadline of September 29 for the Township to accept the offer to engage in settlement negotiations.

In order to maintain 100% transparency in this process, a copy of that letter is attached.

This unexpected announcement was the Justice Department’s first substantive response to the Township since it began investigating the Township’s zoning ordinances in December 2018. In early 2019, the Kelaher administration and prior council submitted a series of proposals for the Department to consider, but until now the Township had received no answer. Special Legal Counsel, Prof. Marci Hamilton, spoke with the DOJ as well to assure them that Toms River is working in good faith on accommodations before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Township seeks to find accommodations that would resolve the issues without unnecessary and costly litigation, and looks forward to its conversations with the DOJ. The Township has made significant strides toward greater religious inclusivity and views this opportunity as a way of furthering those important interests for all residents.

By opting for collaboration over confrontation, the Township will be able to ensure that any amendments that might be necessary to satisfy the Township’s obligations under RLUIPA will still further the goals of responsible development, public safety, and quality of life. Reaching a mutually agreeable and responsible accord with the Justice Department, if possible, is a far more prudent approach than potentially costly and protracted litigation.

Toms River Notice of Suit Letter 2

 

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There are 4 Comments to "UPDATE: Department of Justice letter to Toms River Township; Statement from Council"

  • Bwaahaha says:

    RL-UIPA WHAT DO WE WANT YESTERDAY? JUSTICE FROM THE DOJ. (REPEAT)

    R eject L ow-life U nscrupulous I gnoramuses P atronizing Antifa

  • Steve says:

    If only Jackson Township was this level headed…

  • Mutty says:

    Yup!
    The World Hates us; Regardless of our brilliant services and products to the world they treat their dogs better than us. Our children need a place to live. We can not have fear or laziness, we always must fight for our rights.

  • TruthLaser says:

    I am very encouraged by the specifics in the letter, especially the acreage issue. Currently, I believe that a house of worship in Toms River must have 10 acres, which is extremely difficult to find in walking proximity to existing residential areas. Moreover, 10 acres is far more than reasonably necessary for even a very large synagogue, including parking and consequently, an extreme economic burden to build a synagogue.

    Two acres is probably a generous amount of land to support a fairly nice sized building with plenty of parking. I hope they can get it down to that.