BRIDGEWATER, N.J. – A New Jersey town has agreed to pay $2.75 million to purchase land for a proposed mosque in order to settle a lawsuit that was filed by Muslims who were prohibited from opening a mosque in another area of the township.
According to the settlement between Bridgewater officials and the Al Falah Center, the mosque will be built between Routes 202-206 and 287 on a 15-acre strip of land, and the township’s insurance will also pay $5 million in damages and attorney’s costs. The total settlement will amount to $7.75 million dollars.
In 2011, the township planning board rejected a proposal for a former inn to be converted into a mosque, as it pointed to a newly-approved ordinance that only allowed houses of worship, along with schools and country clubs, to be built on major roadways because of traffic concerns and in order to “preserve the residential character of its various neighborhoods.” The township rejected the notion that it refused the proposal simply because it involved a mosque.
But those behind the Al Falah Center then filed a federal lawsuit against the town of Bridgewater in an effort to to force officials to permit the renovation of the building into a mosque and Islamic community center. The complaint asserted that the ordinance was discriminatory and violated both their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United State Constitution, as well as the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
Written by Heather Clark
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