Maui Church Zoning Dispute to be Decided on First Amendment Laws

October 28, 2002

Source: The Associated Press

On October 28, 2002 The Associated Press reported that "a federal judge says a Maui church’s zoning dispute won’t be decided based on a federal religious land-use law but will instead be decided on First Amendment grounds. On Oct. 24, U.S. District Judge Samuel P. King also dismissed members of the Maui County planning commission and the county planning director from the lawsuit filed against the county by the church over the zoning of its property In a ruling on a motion for dismissal, King decided that the case wouldn’t be decided based on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 — or RLUIPA. Hale O Kaula, supported by the Washington, D.C.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, sued the county and the Maui Planning Commission under the federal law last year. Signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000, RLUIPA exempts religious groups from most local zoning rules unless government can show that the restrictions are necessary to protect public safety. Victoria Takeyasu, deputy corporation counsel for the county, said she was pleased by the judge's ruling, which found that the federal law does not invalidate the county's zoning statutes. Hale O Kaula has never applied to the county for a permit to just hold church services on the property, Takeyasu said. The church applied only for the special-use permit to build a new chapel on the property, she said."