BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has sued Bernards Township, New Jersey, after the municipality blocked an Islamic group from building a mosque on property it owns.

As WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported Tuesday, the suit alleged the township violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 when it denied zoning approval to allow the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge to build the mosque.

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The land is in a zone that at the time of request allowed construction of places of worship.

The Justice Department alleges the township amended its zoning ordinances and treating the group differently than it treated other religious groups.

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The Islamic society sued the town in federal court in March, several months after its application to build the mosque was denied after more than three years and 39 public hearings.

That lawsuit alleges town residents made references to terrorism and questioned what children would learn in the mosque.

The town responded in a court filing that it was more concerned with issues such as storm water management, lighting and fire safety.

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