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The RLUIPA Three-step

Step 1: Find a land in a rural area, zoned for agricultural or low-density residential.  Pick up a large chunk; it is usually inexpensive.

Step 2: Ask for a zoning variance, applying for a large project such as a multi-use religious complex for thousand or more people. Hope the local residents won’t notice.

Step 3: After the variance is repeatedly denied and the community thoroughly alienated, sue for millions under the RLUIPA Federal law.

There are variations to Step 3.

    RLUIPA forces the City or County being sued to pay the legal fees of the religious organization that prevails.  Not surprisingly, lawyers like those of the Becket Fund in Washington always rush to the help of the plaintiff. Can you spell astronomical rates at the defendants’ cost?

Step 3a:  Contact the smalltime local officials and tell them that unless they give up, their smalltime budget will be crushed by not just their legal fees, but those big-city fees of the Becket Fund in the event of a loss.

Step 3b: Intimidate the local residents, accusing them of being “Godless”, “racist” or “chauvinists”.  Hope some of them will sell their property, disunite or otherwise reduce their support to their local officials.

Plan B

In the unlikely event that the RLUIPA maneuver fails, no problem, no downside. With all that visibility, the land probably appreciated enough for selling it at a significant profit to a developer of Mc Mansions.  Repeat the process in some other unsuspecting locale.