Planning law moratorium runs into religious land use — legal briefing

The Saint ReportPoliticians and Planning, Property Development, saintblogLeave a Comment

By Dwight Merriam, Partner, Robinson & Cole, LLP

Dwight-H-MerriamWhat happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object – a moratorium to promote sustainable development runs into the constitutional right to the exercise of religion?

The unstoppable force paradox is an exercise in logic that seems to come up in the law all too often. There is a Chinese variant. The Chinese word for “paradox” is literally translated as “spear-shield” coming from a story in a Third Century B.C. philosophy book, Han Fiez, about a man selling a sword he claimed could pierce any shield. He also was trying to sell a shield, which he said could resist any sword. He was asked the obvious question and could give no answer.

The Washington Supreme Court broke the paradox between a 12-month moratorium during which the City of Woodinville considered sustainable development regulations for its R-1 residential area, and the efforts by the Northshore United Church of Christ (Northshore Church) to host a movable encampment for homeless people on its R-1 property.

Thanks to the International Municipal Lawyers Association – Local Government Blog, where Dwight Merriam’s article first appeared.

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