Al Falah Center and Bridgewater Township Reach Settlement to Allow for Establishment of First Mosque in Bridgewater
The Al Falah Center reached a settlement with Bridgewater Township this week, allowing Al Falah to proceed with its plans to build the first mosque in this New Jersey township.
“We applaud the Mayor and the Council for entering into this Agreement and look forward to working cooperatively with them to reach our objective. And we want to thank our legal team, who have stood by us throughout,” said Yasser Abdelkader, President of Al Falah Center.
Al Falah Center is represented by Arnold & Porter LLP, Archer & Greiner, P.C., The Brennan Center for Justice, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The lawsuit, filed on September 26, 2011 in New Jersey federal court, arose from the Township’s enactment of a zoning change after Al Falah Center sought approval to convert the Redwood Inn, a former banquet hall, into a mosque. The suit alleged that the Township violated Al Falah Center’s federal constitutional rights under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as corresponding protections of New Jersey’s Constitution. The suit also alleged violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA).
On September 30, 2013, the court ruled in favor of Al Falah Center, preliminarily enjoining the Township from applying the zoning ordinance to Al Falah Center’s mosque application. The court found that Al Falah Center had not only demonstrated irreparable injury to the Muslim community that had been deprived of the ability to use its property as a house of worship, but had also demonstrated that it was likely to succeed on the merits of at least its statutory claim.
Following this ruling, the parties engaged in extensive settlement negotiations that have now resulted in an agreement designed to allow Al Falah Center to build its house of worship in Bridgewater. Under the settlement, the Township has agreed to exchange a 10.75 acre piece of land on Route 202/206 in Bridgewater for the Redwood Inn property. The exchange will occur only after Al Falah Center has obtained all approvals necessary to construct a mosque on the new property. If those approvals are not obtained, the settlement provides that the preliminary injunction will be made permanent so that Al Falah Center can pursue the construction of a mosque at the Redwood Inn site without reference to the challenged ordinance. In addition, Al Falah Center has received a substantial monetary settlement, which it can use to help finance construction of its mosque on either of the two properties.
For more information, contact:
Kenneth Kimerling, AALDEF Legal Director
Peter L. Zimroth
Arnold & Porter LLP
Al Falah Center Board Member