As reported by JacksonLeaks.com, the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice has launched its own investigation into Jackson’s municipal laws over possible violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
As was reported yesterday, the NJ State Attorney General’s office has also sent a subpoena to Jackson officials requesting documents related to their ban on eruvs within the township.
The DOJ’s request (embedded below) focuses on two ordinances (3-17 and 4-17) dealing with school and dormitory requests by a religious organization, after bans were put in place by Jackson officials. It requests 10 years worth of zoning and planning documents to see if there is a pattern of targeting unwanted groups or part of a coherent strategy on zoning.
From the DOJ demand letter:
“Our investigation will also focus on whether the Township, by enacting these Ordinances, has engaged in discrimination on the basis of religion by effectively prohibiting any religious organization from establishing a school with religiously affiliated housing, including a yeshiva, in Jackson.”
The Government is demanding 10 years worth of information regarding Zoning Ordinances, Zoning Maps, Master Plans and copies of laws, codes, ordinances, plans or regulations relating to procedures and requirements fore requests or applications regarding zoning or rezoning an area in addition other materials.
This is a developing story and we will continue to monitor and provide updates. Please follow Eruv Litigation on Facebook, Twitter and the web.US Dept of Justice ltr. dtd. 8-28-17 RLUIPA & Fair Housing Act
Of course, as noted on Jackson Leaks, there’s a bit of irony here as well. Unfounded complaints by residents regarding what they called “blockbusting”, led the town to request the NJ Attorney General and the US DOJ to investigate housing practices in the Township (see embedded letter below). There’s no indication the AG or DOJ found anything worth investigating, but the zoning rules put in place by Jackson have certainly gotten their attention.
Well… they got their wish — everyone is now looking into housing practices in Jackson.7_22_16 ltr to US Dept. of Justice_blockbusting violation