New Jersey town accepts settlements in lawsuits over mosque denial

A New Jersey township that voted against a mosque has agreed to settlements in lawsuits filed by the federal government and the organization that put forward the plan for a mosque. According to nj.com, the Bernards Township Committee met with its Planning Board and by a majority, agreed on May 23, to accept the two settlements. This was after years of rejecting the mosque that was planned for the Liberty Corner section of the township.

The lawsuits were filed by the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and the U.S. Justice Department, both of them claiming that the denial of the mosque was an act of discrimination.

The Mayor of Bernards, Carolyn Gaziano told nj.com that the details of the settlement could not be revealed until they wre finalized in a few days. The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge also did not comment on the settlement, which according to nj.com, could be expensive, in light of a precedent set by the 2014 settlement in Bridgewater Township where the city paid $7.75 million to settle the lawsuit brought by another entity when it was denied permission to build a mosque at a certain site.

The issue of getting permission to build the mosque at Liberty Corner has been going on for four years, with many members of the public claiming it was not prejudice but rather about the location that conditioned their opposition. Howe ever, on December 31st, 2016, a federal judge put paid to that view and ruled the town’s insistence that the mosque make more parking spaces than those required in churches or synagogues, was unconstitutional.

According to nj.com, the mosque idea was rejected in December 2015 after 39 planning board meetings and intense community opposition. The Islamic Society then sued on grounds of religious discrimination because of the demand for extra parking spaces. Even though the mosque met zoning requirements, it was denied by the township. That, the Islamic Society, claimed was illegal, the news report said.

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