BENSALEM, PA — The Justice Department and Bensalem Township have reached an agreement to resolve allegations that the township violated the law when it denied zoning approval for a mosque two years ago. As part of the agreement, the Bensalem Masjid will be permitted to build the mosque on Hulmeville Road.
The Bensalem Masjid sought to build a mosque on three adjoining parcels of land, but the application was denied by the Zoning Hearing Board after several public hearings in 2014.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the township in July 2016.
The complaint alleged that the Bensalem Township’s denial of a variance imposed a “substantial burden on the Bensalem Masjid’s religious exercise, treated the Bensalem Masjid less favorably than the township treated nonreligious assemblies and discriminated against the Bensalem Masjid on the basis of religion,” according to the Justice Department.
The lawsuit also alleged that the township placed “unreasonable limitations” on religious assemblies generally through its land use regulations.
The Township has also agreed to review and amend its zoning ordinance to comply with the requirements of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). Additionally, the Township has agreed that it will advise its officials and employees about the requirements of RLUIPA, among other remedial measures.
A separate agreement resolving a similar lawsuit brought by the Bensalem Masjid against Bensalem Township has also been reached, according to information from the Justice Department.
At public hearings, zoning board members expressed concerns about parking and traffic, as well as the size of the proposed mosque, which is located in a residential area. DOJ argued these concerns were frivolous, especially in light of the fact that the board previously issued such variances to other religious groups and commercial interests.
Some 200 families belong to the congregation, called Bensalem Masjid, which currently rents space at a local fire hall. Members of the masjid say the space is insufficient to their liturgical and spiritual needs.
The town has granted another Muslim congregation, Faith Unity, a permit to build a mosque in the township.
Another successful zoning jihad battle won by terror-linked CAIR and their Muslim counterparts in the DOJ that will force a large mosque located in a residential area that was not zoned for house-of-worship.
PS: Before it becomes a mosque issue, it’s an immigration issue.