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Religious development faces opposition in Los Angeles

Can neighbors force city to revoke building permit?
Published on Oct 6, 2004

In 1996, Congregation Etz Chaim began holding worship services, without a proper city permit, in a single-family house in a residential area. After neighbors objected, the city denied requests for zoning variances and a conditional-use permit. The congregation appealed, but the city council denied the applications. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. Then the congregation filed a lawsuit under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). The city and the congregation eventually entered into a compromise settlement. The agreement allowed the congregation to use the house for worship upon restoring its neighborhood character, including double-pane windows, fencing, landscaping, no signs, and limits on the size of gatherings. The settlement prohibits weddings, receptions, banquets, funerals, fundraising and daycare activities. Then the congregation applied for a city building permit to expand the house from 3,400 square feet to 8,150 square feet....

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