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Posted on: May 12, 2021

NOTICE OF CONSENT ORDER BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND THE TOWNSHIP OF TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY

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Consistent with the United States Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”), the Township of Toms River does not apply the Township’s land use regulations in a manner that: (1) imposes a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion, unless it is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and imposed in the least restrictive means; (2) treats religious assemblies or institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies or institutions; (3) discriminates against any religious assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination; or (4) totally excludes or unreasonably limits religious assemblies, institutions or structures. 

On March 11, 2021, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey entered a Consent Order resolving a lawsuit between the United States and the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”) based on its Land Use Regulations’ treatment of religious assemblies and institutions, including places of worship.   A copy of the Consent Order referenced above in United States v. Township of Toms River, et al., Civil Action No. 3:21-cr-04633 (FLW) (LHG), is available on the Township’s website at www.tomsrivertownship.com or the Department of Justice’s website at https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-claims-against-toms-river-new-jersey-over-zoning-code-restricts.

RLUIPA prohibits governments from applying land use laws in a way that discriminates against religious uses of land, imposes unjustifiable substantial burdens on religious exercise, treats religious assemblies or institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies or institutions, or totally or unreasonably excludes religious institutions.  Additional details about RLUIPA are available on the United States Department of Justice’s RLUIPA information page, available at https://www.justice.gov/crt/religious-land-use-and-institutionalized-persons-act.

If you believe that the Township of Toms River, its Township Council, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment, any other land use or zoning body of the Township, or any other local government or municipality, has violated your rights under RLUIPA, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey at 855-281-3339 or the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, at (202) 514-4713.  You may also register a complaint via email to usanj.civilrightscomplaint@usdoj.gov or rluipa.complaints@usdoj.gov. via form online at https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement, or by writing to either of the following addresses:

 

United States Attorney’s Office          United States Department of Justice

Civil Rights Unit                                  Civil Rights Division

District of New Jersey                         Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

970 Broad Street, Suite 700               4 Constitution Square

Newark, New Jersey  07102              150 M Street NE

                                                            Washington, DC  20530

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