Arkansas City Warned: Don't Deny Synagogue a Home
The letter warns Fayetteville officials that "[t]he denial of the Congregation's application for a place of religious assembly and worship would substantially burden its ability to engage in fundamental religious activities. Courts have repeatedly found that denying the members of a religious body the ability to use their property to conduct core religious practices of worship constitutes a substantial burden on religious exercise."
From the letter:
"We are writing to provide you with our legal opinion regarding the application of the City of Fayetteville land use ordinances to the Temple Shalom Congregation, and the consequences of that application under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the United States Constitution. We have been contacted by Darla Newman, who has provided us with background on the Congregation's situation. In addition, we have reviewed the recordâ€"including relevant zoning ordinances and city attorney opinionsâ€"concerning the Congregation's application for a Conditional Use Permit which asks for permission to use its 'Butterfly House' property for religious assembly and worship. It is our opinion that if the City Council fails to approve the Congregation's application for a Conditional Use Permit for religious uses on their property, the City may be subject to liability under federal law."