United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Consent Order (“Order”) is entered between the
United States of America (“the United States”)
and Pittsfield Charter Township, Michigan (“Pittsfield
Township” or “the Township").
United States brought this action on October 26, 2015 to
enforce provisions of the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”),
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq. This Court has
jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §
Defendant Pittsfield Township is a municipal corporation and
political subdivision of the State of Michigan. The Township
has the authority to regulate and restrict the use of land
and structures within its borders, including granting and
denying rezoning petitions. The Township is governed by a
seven-person Board of Trustees, which votes on some land use
decisions after receiving recommendations from the
Township's Planning Commission.
Pittsfield Township is a “government” within the
meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc 5(4)(A).
Pittsfield Township's processes and requirements
regarding the granting or denial of a rezoning petition
constitute “land use regulation[s]” under RLUIPA,
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc 5(5).
Michigan Islamic Academy (“MIA”) is a full-time
Islamic School, pre-kindergarten through Grade 12, located in
Ann Arbor, Michigan. MIA currently operates out of a building
that it shares with the Muslim Community Center of Ann Arbor
and Vicinity (“MCA”), a community center and
mosque, on a 2.7 acre property in Ann Arbor.
and MIA are “religious institution[s]” under
RLUIPA, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (a)-(b).
MIA's operation as a religious school constitutes
“religious exercise” under RLUIPA, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000cc 5(7)(A)-(B).
September 8, 2010, Mr. Said Issa purchased a 26.7 acre tract
of undeveloped land in Pittsfield Township for $260, 000.00
(the “Property”). The site was zoned as part of a
residential planned unit development (“PUD”). In
about June 2015, the property was conveyed to MIA with some
restrictions, allowing MIA access to 5 acres to build a
December 6, 2010, MIA submitted a petition to the Township to
amend/rezone the existing residential PUD to allow
construction of a one-story school building. On August 4,
2011, the Planning Commission voted to recommend to the Board
of Trustees that it deny MIA's rezoning petition. On
October 26, 2011, the Board of Trustees voted to adopt the
Planning Commission's recommendation and denied MIA's
United States alleges in its Complaint that the Board's
denial of MIA's rezoning petition violated provisions of
RLUIPA. Pittsfield Township denies those allegations.
United States and Pittsfield Township agree that the United
States' claims should be resolved amicably and without
further litigation. Accordingly, the United States and
Pittsfield Township agree to the terms of and entry of this
Consent Order, as indicated by their signatures below.
Nothing in this Consent Order constitutes nor should be
considered to constitute any admission of wrongdoing or
liability by Pittsfield Township and Pittsfield Township
specifically denies any and all allegations of wrongdoing or
it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED as follows:
MICHIGAN ISLAMIC ACADEMY'S USE OF THE ...