Religion And Land Use

What kind of authority should cities and towns hold over the design and size of buildings used for religious and educational purposes?

Read Time: 1 minute

September 20, 2000, 9:00 AM PDT

By Chris Steins @urbaninsight


Belmont, MA residents refused to allow a 13-story tower for the new Mormon temple in this comfortable community of 25,000. Now the residents are appealing to the Supreme Court to remove the entire temple. "At stake is the question of what kind of authority cities and towns should hold over the design and size of buildings used for religious and educational purposes. With a 50-year-old provision known as the Dover Amendment on its books, Massachusetts is among a number of states that exempt religious and educational institutions from conventional zoning restrictions, permitting construction in residential areas such as the neighborhood where the Belmont temple now looms." Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act in July, 2000. The measure states states that zoning regulations cannot "place a substantial burden on exercise of religion," and it grew out of contentious battles in the last decade involving houses of worship nationwide.

Thanks to Chris Steins

Tuesday, September 19, 2000 in The Los Angeles Times

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