Troy, MI

image_02_Pages from TROY_BZA_2019-06-19_packet.jpg

Description

A documented account of Case No. MI_08, occurring in Troy, MI, 48083 from 2018 to present

Creator

Stewart Zelnick

Year

2018

Proposed Project

Islamic center

Outcome

rejected (legal action ongoing)

Narrative

The Adam Community Center (“Adam”) is a community of Sunni Muslims in Troy, Michigan.  For seven years, the group has struggled to get their projects approved by the city.  In 2013, a real estate company purchased a former restaurant and planned to develop it into a community center for Adam.  At a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, however, city officials designated the proposed project as a “place of worship” and the seller of the property accepted a different offer (Troy BZA minutes 2013).  In 2017, the Adam Community Center approached the City of Troy with a list of several different properties in order to be advised on which ones may be best suited for development.  Allegedly, the city refused to assist Adam and advised them to look for properties in neighboring cities (United States if America v. City of Troy, Michigan).  *A year later, Adam had entered a preliminary agreement to purchase their current property.  In order to develop this property and use it as a place of worship, Adam requested variances at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.  Unanimously, the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected Adam’s request for variances.

The rejection of these variances caused the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to file a lawsuit on behalf of Adam in the Eastern District of Michigan.  The complaint, which was filed in November of 2018, outlines numerous allegations of Troy’s discriminatory behavior, including an instance where Adam attempted to purchase an existing church, but residents of Troy learned about the purchase and brought in Christian investors to buy out the church from under Adam (Adam Community Center v. City of Troy).   The lawsuit accuses Troy of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) on three counts: depriving Adam of their religious exercise by imposing a substantial burden, discrimination on the basis of religion, and imposing unequal restrictions against religious institutions (Adam Community Center v. City of Troy).*  In response to this lawsuit, the City of Troy requested a dismissal, which was rejected by a federal judge.

In 2019, the United States Department of Justice also filed a lawsuit against Troy.  The suit outlines similar allegations against Troy, but only alleges that Troy violated RLUIPA on two counts: imposing a substantial burden on Adam and imposing unequal restrictions against religious institutions.  The DOJ’s lawsuit makes no mention of discrimination on the basis of religion.  This is likely because it is more difficult to prove religious discrimination in a court of law.  Both lawsuits are still ongoing as of June 2020. 

Last Updated

July 2, 2020

Collection

Citation

Stewart Zelnick, “Troy, MI,” U.S. Mosque Controversies, accessed December 5, 2021, https://usmc.ecdsomeka.org/items/show/34.

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