AJC Philadelphia Chapter Urges Zoning Board to Reverse Decision Against Congregation Kol Ami

Apr 11, 2001, 01:00 ET from The American Jewish Committee

    NEW YORK, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee's
 Philadelphia Chapter is urging a local zoning board, in Abington,
 Pennsylvania, to reverse its decision to prohibit a synagogue congregation
 from purchasing a former convent.
     "The zoning board's decision flies in the face of recent federal
 legislation intended to protect houses of worship from discriminatory local
 zoning laws," said Dr. Murray Friedman, regional director of AJC's Middle
 Atlantic States.
     The Abington Zoning Board denied Congregation Kol Ami the rights to
 establish a synagogue and Hebrew school at Villa Nazareth, a former convent,
 asserting that the congregation's proposal to convert the property into a
 temple and school was "too intensive" for a neighborhood of that size.
     Congregation Kol Ami currently does not have its own building.
     Dr. Friedman pointed out that religious institutions belong where people
 live and are as much a part of the community as are schools."  Moreover, the
 nuns were pleased that selling the property to Kol Ami would maintain the site
 for religious purposes.
     "Rejection of this reasonable proposal smacks of the type of burdensome,
 even discriminatory, application of zoning laws which the U.S. Congress
 addressed last year by enacting the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
 Persons Act," said Dr. Friedman, who has appealed to the zoning board to
 reverse its decision and allow Kol Ami to proceed with it plans.
     RLUIPA protects religious groups from discriminatory land use laws that
 encroach on the free exercise of their faiths, such as laws that prevent the
 establishment of religious assemblies and houses of worship in residential
 areas.
     The American Jewish Committee played an "indispensable role" in crafting
 RLUIPA, according to Senator Edward Kennedy.
 
 

SOURCE The American Jewish Committee
    NEW YORK, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee's
 Philadelphia Chapter is urging a local zoning board, in Abington,
 Pennsylvania, to reverse its decision to prohibit a synagogue congregation
 from purchasing a former convent.
     "The zoning board's decision flies in the face of recent federal
 legislation intended to protect houses of worship from discriminatory local
 zoning laws," said Dr. Murray Friedman, regional director of AJC's Middle
 Atlantic States.
     The Abington Zoning Board denied Congregation Kol Ami the rights to
 establish a synagogue and Hebrew school at Villa Nazareth, a former convent,
 asserting that the congregation's proposal to convert the property into a
 temple and school was "too intensive" for a neighborhood of that size.
     Congregation Kol Ami currently does not have its own building.
     Dr. Friedman pointed out that religious institutions belong where people
 live and are as much a part of the community as are schools."  Moreover, the
 nuns were pleased that selling the property to Kol Ami would maintain the site
 for religious purposes.
     "Rejection of this reasonable proposal smacks of the type of burdensome,
 even discriminatory, application of zoning laws which the U.S. Congress
 addressed last year by enacting the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
 Persons Act," said Dr. Friedman, who has appealed to the zoning board to
 reverse its decision and allow Kol Ami to proceed with it plans.
     RLUIPA protects religious groups from discriminatory land use laws that
 encroach on the free exercise of their faiths, such as laws that prevent the
 establishment of religious assemblies and houses of worship in residential
 areas.
     The American Jewish Committee played an "indispensable role" in crafting
 RLUIPA, according to Senator Edward Kennedy.
 
 SOURCE  The American Jewish Committee