Saturday, August 27, 2011
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
LILBURN -- Responding to a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice alleging religious discrimination, Lilburn officials on Saturday issued a press release categorically denying that they have discriminated against Muslims or any other religious group.
The department of justice filed a complaint Friday against the city of Lilburn, criticizing its handling of rezoning applications by the Dar-E-Abbas mosque, which sought to expand its current facilities near Hood Road and Lawrenceville Highway. Lilburn officials twice denied the mosque's application for rezoning before approving it 3-1 on Aug. 16.
Lilburn officials on Saturday entered a consent order with the department of justice, agreeing to undergo training related to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. Federal officials had found that Lilburn violated that act.
The unsigned release states that Lilburn officials will not fight the federal demands to save on court costs and "focus our attention on efficiently delivering services to our residents."
The release states that Lilburn "prides itself on its rich diversity, including its many religious facilities."
Federal law forbids cities from using zoning laws to discriminate against religious groups seeking to build places of worship.
The settlement between the parties must still be approved by a federal district judge in Atlanta.
Under a consent decree to be filed Monday, Lilburn also agrees to not impose different zoning or building requirements on Dar-E-Abbas or other religious groups, to publicize its nondiscrimination policies, and to adopt new procedures that clarify its complaint process for zoning and permitting decisions regarding houses of worship.