Bloomingburg Jewish Education Center v. Village of Bloomingburg, 2015 WL 3604300 (S.D.N.Y.) involved the purchase of property and moving in of Hasidic Jews in Bloomingburg, the adjacent defendant community of Mamakating, the resistance of existing community members, and their elected officials to these efforts, allegedly in violation of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons and Fair Housing Acts and New York law. Defendants seek dismissal of those claims. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege Defendants obstructed a housing development marketed to potential Hasidic buyers, impeded a private Hasidic religious school and mikvah (a Hasidic ritual bath used for purification), and engaged in a program of harassment and discriminatory code enforcement aimed at Hasidic Jews.
Most of us in the United States are philosophical descendants of a Middle Eastern pioneer who left his parents’ home and ventured to a new land. He was inspired by his firm belief in monotheism, and his descendants founded the Jewish, Christian and Moslem faiths. Aside from the stories about his destruction of idols in his father’s shop, Abraham was well known for his hospitality towards strangers. The bible describes how he washed the feet of travelers who came to his tent after crossing the desert. In the realm of human behavior, this progenitor of three great world religions is best known for welcoming the stranger.
During this time of tumult over refugees coming to our shores, you might think I’m writing about the influx of Syrian’s fleeing war in their homeland. No, I’m a real estate and business lawyer, not a politician. This message is about welcoming the participation of foreigners in our real estate markets, especially our Pacific neighbors – the Chinese.
Scappoose, Oregon, located right off Highway 30, has only 6,800 residents. Its motto is “A place to grow.” This expected growth was the subject of a recent court of appeals case, Zimmerman v LCDC, 274 Or App 512 (2015). In 2011, the city enacted an ordinance amending its comprehensive plan, hoping to add more land to its UGB designating much of it for industrial and commercial uses, particularly for airport employment uses. To expand a UGB pursuant a Goal 14, a local government must establish that land is needed to further future economic opportunities; determining such need requires compliance with Goal 9 and implementing administrative rules. In order to justify such expansion, a local government must compare the demand for industrial and employment lands against the existing supply, through a review of the “best available” information considering national, regional or local trends, site characteristics of expected uses and development potential. OAR 660-009-0015.
For those practicing in the land use field, there is always a concern about how decisions get made and, in particular, what communication occurs behind closed doors. The Oregon Public Meetings Law is clear that all decisions must be made in a public meeting, but public officials may sometimes meet in groups of less than a quorum to discuss their perspectives. The Court of Appeals issued a decision last month that will require local governments to reconsider such conversations.
Every year or so LUBA issues a decision reminding local governments of their obligations under state law to apply only “clear and objective” approval criteria to applications for “needed housing.” Although local governments may use a dual-path review system that includes a discretionary track, (often containing incentives to encourage developers to pursue this course), a local government must under state law have a clear and objective path in which the local procedures and standards “may not have the effect…of discouraging needed housing through unreasonable cost or delay.” Group B, LLC v. City of Corvallis decided this fall is such a case.
We regularly update clients about changes in real estate law and on industry trends. This includes briefing clients on legislative proposals in the federal tax, housing and other legal areas affecting their businesses. Staying current enables you to anticipate and prevent legal problems as well as capitalize on new developments.