Islamic School, Pittsfield Township Settle Lawsuit Over Zoning Denial

PITTSFIELD TWP. (WWJ/AP) – An Islamic school has settled a federal lawsuit against a Michigan township that denied zoning for a new school building.

The Michigan Islamic Academy will get $1.7 million and can build a school and housing on the land in Pittsfield Township, near Ann Arbor. Township officials approved the settlement Wednesday.

The academy sued after the township, in 2011, rejected its request to build.

“I think it would set a dangerous precedent if a community is allowed to block construction of a school and an activity center based upon religion,” said Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, at that time.

Pittsfield Supervisor Mandy Grewal says Thursday that the township denies any wrongdoing and that traffic and congestion were original concerns.

The township has said repeatedly that the decision wasn’t based on religion.

Township officials also settled a Justice Department suit that said it violated the Religious Institutions Land Use Protection Act — a law that prohibits imposing land use regulations that put a substantial burden on religious exercise.

The academy says its current Ann Arbor location is insufficient to meet its religious and secular needs.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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