STATEMENT OF JOSEPH MEYERS TO COUNTY LEGISLATURE

January 16, 2007

GOOD EVENING.

I AM SURE MANY OF YOU HAVE READ ABOUT THE UPCOMING APPLICATION IN THE VILLAGE OF POMONA TO HOUSE ALMOST 5,000 PEOPLE ON A SITE WHICH IS ZONED TO HOUSE 1/10TH OF THAT NUMBER. THIS APPLICATION ONCE AGAIN REQUIRES US TO REFLECT ON THE EFFICACY OF THE RELIGIOUS LAND USE AND INSTITUTIONALIZED PERSONS ACT.

HOWEVER WELL INTENTIONED THIS FEDERAL LAW MAY HAVE BEEN, THE NET EFFECT OF THIS LAW IS THAT IT PROVIDES RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS WITH A LEGAL HAMMERóNOT A SHIELD TO PREVENT DISCRIMINATION- BUT A LEGAL HAMMER- TO FORCE MUNICIPALITIES INTO ALLOWING ALL SORTS OF LARGE SCALE DEVELOPMENT IN VIOLATION OF APPLICABLE ZONING CODES.

UNDER RLUIPA, MUNICIPALITIES ARE NOT PERMITTED TO REJECT PROPOSED LARGE-SCALE DEVELOPMENT IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN REDUCED HOUSING DENSITY, MAINTAIN THE AESTHETIC BEAUTY OF A NEIGHBORHOOD OR PREVENT INCREASED TRAFFIC AND BURDEN ON WATER AND SEWER RESOURCES. UNDER RLUIPA, NONE OF THESE CONSIDERATIONS ARE DEEMED "COMPELLING" ENOUGH TO PREVENT SUCH DEVELOPMENT EVEN THOUGH THE RESULT WILL INEVITABLY BE URBAN SPRAWL AND HUGE COSTS TO TAXPAYERS TO IMPLEMENT INFRASTURE ENHANCEMENTS.

I AM TODAY ANNOUNCING AN EFFORT TO HAVE THIS LEGISLATURE, AND OTHER MUNCIPALITIES IN THE TOWN OF RAMAPO PASS A RESOLUTION CALLING UPON THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO REPEAL THE AFFECTED PROVISIONS IN RLUIPA AND RETURN LOCAL LAND USE DECISIONS TO WHERE THEY BELONG- THE LOCAL MUNICIPAL ZONING AND PLANNING BOARDS. I HAVE PROVIDED COPIES OF THE PROPOSED RESOLUTION TO EACH OF YOU.

MAKE NO MISTAKE. ALL LAND USE APPLICANTS-WHETHER RELIGIOUS OR NOT- SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO FAIRNESS IN LAND USE DECISIONS AND ARE ENTITLED TO REDRESS IN COURT BASED ON A WIDE RANGE OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS (INCLUDING THE FAIR HOUSING ACT) IF THEY BELIEVE THEY HAVE BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. BUT WITH THE REPEAL OF RLUIPA, RELIGIOUS LAND USE APPLICANTS WILL NO LONGER HAVE A SPECIAL LEGAL HAMMER TO FORCE DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT REGARD TO THE NORMAL CONSIDERATIONS THAT ALL OTHER LAND USE APPLICANTS MUST ABIDE BY.

I HOPE THAT MEMBERS OF THIS BODY WILL INTRODUCE THIS RESOLUTION AND SCHEDULE A PUBLIC HEARING ON IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

 

THANK YOU.