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Court Strikes Religious Use Zoning Rules

CHICAGO (CN) - The Seventh Circuit struck down an Indianapolis zoning ordinance that excluded churches from certain districts byinflating the meaning of "religious land use,"the Seventh Circuit ruled.

Toby Dirugilliers, pastor of the 50-member Baptist Church of the West Side, claimed the city was kicking out his church because it was in an "office-buffer zone," or C-1, between commercial and residential districts. Indianapolis zoning codes require a variance order for religious use within C-1 zones.

Dirugilliers claimed the restriction violates a provision in the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that forbids local government from imposing regulations that favor secular land use over religious land use.

Judge Posner said the city unconstitutionally tried to justify its exclusion of churches by padding the definition of "religious use" to include more rights than secular users have. Reversed and remanded. See ruling in Digrugilliers v. Indianapolis.

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