Religious discrimination? Department of Justice sues city of Troy over denial of mosque

Religious discrimination? DOJ sues Troy over denial of Mosque

TROY, Mich. – The Justice Department announced Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against the city of Troy alleging that the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA​​​​​).

The lawsuit centers around a mosque that was never built.

ORIGINAL STORY: U.S. Department of Justice files discrimination lawsuit against city of Troy for Muslim restrictions

Local 4 legal analyst Neil Rockind said the situation is huge news and could affect the city with a costly lawsuit for not allowing a group to take over a building it bought to convert it into a mosque.

Nonprofit Adam Community Center went to the feds after searching for a place of worship in Troy for years, only to hit roadblock after roadblock.

The Council on American-Islamic relations accuses Troy leaders of only approving permits for businesses that would make the city money -- a potential violation of RLUIPA.

The group found a site on Rochester Road near Big Beaver that they said fits all city criteria -- only to be denied again.

The result is a federal lawsuit against the city of Troy that could be embarrassing and expensive.

"It is going to cost the city and taxpayers money," Rockind said.

The city of Troy released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"The City of Troy has not yet been served with the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the City. We presume this new lawsuit raises many of the same allegations that were included in the lawsuit that ADAM COMMUNITY CENTER filed against the City several months ago challenging a decision of Troy’s Zoning Board of Appeals denying Adam’s request for seven variances.

The City vehemently denies that it engaged in any impropriety or discrimination and it is aggressively defending the lawsuit. The Zoning Board of Appeals denied the variances because it was not persuaded that Adam met its burden to demonstrate entitlement to the variances in accordance with the standards set forth in the City’s zoning ordinance.

These same standards are applicable to all applicants that seek a variance."

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.