By JEFF KAROUB
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – The federal government has sued a southeastern Michigan township for denying a zoning change that would allow construction of an Islamic school.

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The Justice Department announced Monday it filed the suit against Pittsfield Township near Ann Arbor in Detroit federal court. The government says in a news release the township violated a law that prohibits imposing land use regulations that “substantially burden religious exercise.”

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The township in 2011 rejected Michigan Islamic Academy’s request to build on vacant land in a planned residential area. The school says it’s too big for its Ann Arbor location.

Attorney Tom Meagher, who is representing the township in the lawsuit, says the zoning decision was “fair and lawful.” He says it’s “the wrong location” for any school and religion has nothing to do with it.

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