Firm Secures Settlement on Behalf of Bayonne Muslims
The city of Bayonne, New Jersey has reached a $400,000 settlement with Bayonne Muslims, and has agreed to revisit the organization’s application to build its mosque. Patterson Belknap’s team, led by Adeel Mangi and Muhammad Faridi, represented Bayonne Muslims in this litigation.
Bayonne Muslims purchased property for the mosque and applied for zoning consideration in 2015. However, the organization's plan for the mosque was met by strong resistance from a segment of the community that opposed building the mosque. In March 2017, the city zoning board ultimately denied the group's application to build the mosque. In May 2017, Bayonne Muslims filed a federal lawsuit asserting that the zoning board violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by denying approval for the plan based on factors board members were not legally permitted to consider. Less than one week later, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a separate investigation into the city zoning board's denial of the mosque.
By settling with Bayonne Muslims, the city of Bayonne will avoid what could have been a lengthy legal battle. Bayonne Mayor James Davis noted, “Our lawyers came back and said 'Listen, it would almost behoove you to settle this case and not take it to trial unless you’re prepared to pay millions of dollars…and have your taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars.’”
Abdul Hamid Butt, the president of Bayonne Muslims, said in a statement that he was “confident our application, considered on its merits, will be approved and we look forward to welcoming Bayonne residents of all faiths to the City’s first mosque."