PITTSFIELD TWP., Mich. — The Michigan Islamic Academy has asked a federal district court judge to overturn a Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees decision that rejected its rezoning request, according to AnnArbor.com. MIA is seeking to have land it purchased in 2010 rezoned so it can build a new 360-student school.
According to AnnArbor.com, the lawsuit claims representatives from the school met with Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal before purchasing the land. Grewal reportedly told MIA that they should not have any problems getting the land rezoned for a school as long as they followed the proper procedures.
Because Pittsfield “has not identified any compelling government interest for denying MIA’s application” the lawsuit argues the township has violated the First and 14th Amendment as well as the federal Religious Institutions Land Use Protection Act, according to AnnArbor.com.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is a partner in the lawsuit, told AnnArbor.com the township’s arguments that the school would lead to traffic issues and a fall in neighboring property values were the “same old, tired, bigoted arguments that have been made in the past.”
“This will set a dangerous precedent if the community is allowed to block the construction of this school,” Walid said. “It is neo-Jim Crow in a sense.”
AnnArbor.com, “American-Islamic council: Pittsfield Township's blocking of Islamic school is 'neo-Jim Crow',” Feb. 22, 2012
Michigan Education Report, “Muslim school backers ask federal oversight,” July 28, 2011