Defendant Pittsfield Charter Township, through its Planning Commission and Board of Trustees, denied a rezoning application submitted by Plaintiff Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, doing business as Michigan Islamic Academy (“MIA”). According to MIA, the denial of the rezoning application means that it cannot build a new Islamic school on property within Pittsfield Township that it wishes to utilize for that purpose. MIA claims that the Township’s decision to deny the rezoning application was based on hostility toward Islam, and asserts claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).
The Township argued that MIA had no legally cognizable interest in the property and it is therefore entitled to summary judgment on all three remaining RLUIPA claims. Even though MIA admitted that it did not own the property and has never owned the property, it argued that it has an interest in the property that is sufficient under RLUIPA’s definition of “land use regulation.” Despite this MIA was found not to have offered any evidence showing that it has, or ever had, a legally cognizable interest in the property. Accordingly, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the Township and allowed MIA the ability to reassert the claims should it acquire a legally cognizable interest in the property.
Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor v Pittsfield Charter Township, 2015 WL 1286813 (ED MI 3/20/2015)
The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.rluipa-defense.com/files/2015/01/Pittsfield.pdf