Fighting for Religious Equality in Rezoning
In Lilburn, Georgia, a mosque was denied a rezoning request twice. This mosque, the Dar-E-Abbas Mosque, was attempting to expand its acreage for pursuits such as a cemetery and an additional religious center. These requests did not ask for more than 7.9 acres, but were denied on the basis of concerns about the land and traffic. This was confusing considering that the Lilburn City Council had recently approved expansions for churches of other denominations. As a result of this action, the ACLU of Georgia came into contact with Dillard & Galloway, a firm that had agreed to represent the mosque in any claims they would make based off of the Constitution or the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The RLUIPA dictates that no government can place a substantial burden on religious exercise via land use regulations.
Thankfully, on the third try, Lilburn decided to do the right thing and approved the mosque's new application by a 3-1 vote. Of course, it helped force their hand that the Department of Justice was pursuing a lawsuit against the city on the basis of its violation of the RLUIPA. That lawsuit was settled once the mosque's application was approved.