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The status of the Church of Our Savior trial

Written by Daniel P. Dalton on October 27, 2014 Category: Equal Terms, Land Use and Zoning, RLUIPA, Substantial Burden, Unreasonable Limitations
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Many of you have asked how the trial in Church of Our Savior v. Jacksonville Beach, Florida ended. The Court has taken the matter under advisement and we are waiting on a decision.

By way of background, Church of Our Savior, a small Anglican congregation that has worshiped in six different locations since it began in 2006, sought conditional use approval from the City of Jacksonville Beach to build a house of worship on one of the last remaining vacant parcels in the City. Over a series of evaluations, meeting, deposition and trial the City Planning staff recommended approval of the use on eight separate occasions. The Planning Commission refused to adopt the recommendation of the professional staff, an event that only occurred four times in the past thirty years, resulting in the denial of the use. This case proceeded to a bench trial (the Judge makes the decision, no jury) where the Church asked the Court to grant it injunctive relief – the only relief it sought in this case – allowing the Church to secure the conditional use permits.

Trial was completed trial on September 18, 2014. At the conclusion of trial, the Court directed the Church to submit findings of fact and conclusions of law which it will consider in drafting its opinion in this matter. The proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law can be accessed here. The Court will have a hearing on November 10, 2014 and may issue an opinion at that time. Stay tuned!

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Dalton & Tomich, PLC is the national leader in successfully helping churches, other religious institutions and their insurers defend their rights in land use and zoning matters under RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. We have helped clients win cases against municipalities and other local government bodies from coast to coast, with experience serving both as general counsel and special litigation counsel.