Law & Justice

Memorialization of Mosque Legal Settlements on Tues. Bernards Committee Agenda

A joint meeting of the Bernards Township Committee and Planning Board was held in early May to discuss a settlement in the Liberty Corner mosque case. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos

BERNARDS TWP., NJ -The agenda for Tuesday night's scheduled meeting of the Bernards Township Committee includes final memorialization of the legal settlements with the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and the U.S. Department of Justice that would facilitate the construction of a 4,250-square-foot mosque in Liberty Corner.

The agenda calls for a vote on the memorialization of the execution, release and approval of the settlement agreements, released publicly on May 30. Both lawsuits were filed in 2016, and stemmed from the Planning Board's December rejection of the mosque application. 

The terms of the settlements with both the ISBR and federal DOJ, approved by majority votes of the Bernards Township Committee and Planning Board on May 23, are posted on the township website. Township Committeeman John Carpenter voted against the settlement.

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One of the key points under the terms of the agreement is that the township cannot require more than 50 parking spaces for the proposed 4,250-square-foot mosque, instead of the 107 required by the Planning Board during three years of hearings on the proposal. The settlement notes that it the figure that would generally be required for a church, or similar house of worship, and specified that different standards must not be applied to a proposed mosque. The terms of the agreement specifies that neither Bernards Township or any other government can impose discriminatory requirements against a house of worship.

Last week, following a closed session to discuss pending litigation from resident Cody Smith against Bernards Township and the Planning Board that seeks to void the settlement agreement, the Bernards Planning Board authorized its attorney Jonathan Drill to represent the township against Smith's case. Smith has opposed of the settlement with the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and the U.S. Department of Justice to facilitate the establishment of a 4,250-square-foot mosque on a little more than four acres of residential property in Liberty Corner.

On Smith's behalf, a New Jersey attorney affiliated with The Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court alleging that the township violated the state Open Public Meetings Act by approving a legal settlement without disclosing the terms of the settlement and allowing public comment before the settlement was approved.

Township Committee to consider renewal of agreement with Delicious Heights of Basking Ridge regarding amplified music

Another item on the Tuesday Township Committee agenda is the renewal of a memorandum of agreement with Delicious Heights of Basking Ridge regarding amplified music at the restaurant.

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