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Islamic Ctr v Alpharetta

Islamic Ctr v Alpharetta

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Published by: religionclause on Jan 27, 2012
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10/20/2013

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AO 72A(Rev.8/82)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIAATLANTA DIVISION
Islamic Center of North Fulton, Inc.
a Georgia Non-Profit Corporation
,Plaintiff,v.City of Alpharetta, Georgia
a Municipal Corporation of the Stateof Georgia
, et al.,Defendants.:::::::::::::CIVIL ACTION NO.
1:10-cv-01922-JOF
ORDER
This matter is before the court on Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment [106],Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment [107], Defendants’ Motion for Leave to FileExcess Pages and Motion for Leave to File Reply to Plaintiff’s Response to Defendants’Statement of Material Facts [142], and Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration and/orMotion for Clarification [152].
I.BackgroundA.Procedural History
Plaintiff, Islamic Center of North Fulton, Inc. (the “Islamic Center” or “Center”),filed the instant action on June 22, 2010, against Defendants City of Alpharetta; the CityCouncil of the City of Alpharetta; Arthur Letchas in his official capacity as Mayor of the
Case 1:10-cv-01922-JOF Document 163 Filed 01/25/12 Page 1 of 47
 
AO 72A(Rev.8/82)
2
City of Alpharetta, Georgia; and Douglas J. DeRito, Mike Kennedy, Chris Owens, CherylOakes, and D.C. Aiken, individually and in their official capacities as Members of the CityCouncil of the City of Alpharetta. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief under theFirst, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States, theReligious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, andapplicable law of the State of Georgia, as well as costs and attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C.§ 1988 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-2(a). On May 2, 2011, Plaintiff and Defendants filed crossmotions for summary judgment. The court heard oral arguments on the parties’ motions onDecember 8, 2011.
B.Facts
The following facts are undisputed. In 1998, the Islamic Center sought approval fromthe Fulton County Board of Commissioners to use a residence at 1265 Rucker Road inAlpharetta, Georgia, as a mosque. Pl.’s Statement of Material Facts (“PSMF”), ¶ 3;Defendants’ Statement of Material Facts (“DSMF”), ¶ 1. In the letter of intentaccompanying its application for a use permit, the Center asserted that it had a congregationof about twenty-five members. Faroqui Depo., Exh. 25. Prior to submitting the application,in a June 22, 1998, Board Meeting, members of the congregation discussed their planssubsequent to obtaining the use permit:Brother Iqbal suggested that we remodel to accommodate more people. As agroup, we decided that this must be done in a low-keyed manner to avoid
Case 1:10-cv-01922-JOF Document 163 Filed 01/25/12 Page 2 of 47
 
AO 72A(Rev.8/82)
3
attracting attention to our purpose. Upon obtaining the [u]se permit, we canbe more aggressive with our plans to remodel and re-design the facility.Faroqui Depo., Exh. 186.On November 4, 1998, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved theCenter’s use permit application subject to certain conditions, one of which was “[t]o restrictthe use of the site to a church/place of worship in the existing structure. No modificationswill be made to the exterior of the structure, other than normal maintenance.” Faroqui Depo.,Exh. 30. Attaching this condition to use permits was a normal procedure in Fulton Countyand the Center agreed to it. DSMF, ¶¶ 5, 7; Huff Depo., at 21. Subsequently, the Centerpurchased the adjoining property at 1255 Rucker Road. DSMF, ¶ 17.In 2004, the Center submitted another use permit application to the Fulton CountyBoard of Commissioners, this time requesting approval to add the adjacent property at 1255Rucker Road to its site in order to provide the Imam with a residence. DSMF, ¶¶ 16-17;PSMF, ¶ 5. The Center’s plan was to combine the two properties and relocate the drivewayto the middle of the lots. DSMF, ¶ 17. In its application, the Center represented that it hada “small congregation” of about 200 members. Faroqui Depo., Exh. 33. In the time leadingup to the Board of Commissioners’ consideration of its application, members of thecongregation met with neighboring homeowners in an effort to alleviate any concerns theyhad regarding the Center’s request. Faroqui Depo., 39. It appears that the homeowners wereassured that the Center’s application did not represent an expansion of the worship structure
Case 1:10-cv-01922-JOF Document 163 Filed 01/25/12 Page 3 of 47

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