The United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, upheld the decision by U.S. Southern District of New York Judge Kenneth Karas, which dismissed on Summary Judgment various civil rights claims against four Villages within the Town of Ramapo. The Second Circuit held, inter alia, that “Plaintiffs failed to provide credible evidence that any of the purported comparable sites were similarly situated,” and that “Plaintiffs failed to offer evidence that the Villages Defendants were driven by discriminatory animus.” The Court further held that the Villages were motivated by a genuine concern that the “Town’s SEQRA analysis would result in adverse effects on the environment.”
Finally, the Second Circuit distinguished its holding in Fortress Bible Church v. Feiner, 694 F.3d 208 (2d Cir. 2012). There, the Court held that a municipality could be found liable under RLUIPA where it misuses the SEQRA process. Unlike in Fortress Bible, the Villages here did not have jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ property or project. They merely “filed a lawsuit to challenge some other municipality’s SEQRA review.” This distinction, the Court held, rendered Fortress Bible as inapposite. The Villages were represented by Michael Zarin and Jody Cross.