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Post Info TOPIC: Why Attend the Hearings?
Democracy & The Law

Why Attend the Hearings?

Why has Dimin encouraged people to come to the CC hearings?

Can the decision of the board be affected one iota by the view of the residents of RT regarding this issue? Absolutely not. The laws that will govern the decision are already in place. Our democratic process involves choosing representatives that make the laws, and in some cases, voting on referendums that influence the passing of a law. But in the CC situation, this is all water over the dam. The die has been cast. The laws are already in place. No new laws will be crafted that will effect the outcome of whether CC will move to RT. So the participation of RT residents in the process will in NO WAY effect the outcome of the decision. The same is true if the case goes to court. The will of the people do not play a role in any court decisions of this kind. Justices rule based on existing law, not the whims and wishes of a fickle populace.

Some have said this is the “democratic process at work”. But clearly, it isn’t. That process has already taken place. Citizens have voted for their lawmakers, and now the process is basically on auto-pilot from an individuals standpoint. Dimin made this clear at the first meeting when he referred to the letters that he received. He basically said “They’re irrelevant”. How right he was.

So why would Dimin encourage RT residents to attend the meetings? It seems clear that he really wants people to come. But if he knows their opinions are have no bearing on the proceedings, then why should they be there? The answer will come as a surprise to most: It is for their own education. It is so they will understand the issues at hand. Dimin now knows the facts of the matter. He understands the law. He realizes that many in RT don’t understand the law. He understands that, in a legal context, there is little that can be done in the long run to prevent CC from moving to Rockaway. So the public hearings don’t serve the purpose of allowing RT residents to influence the process, they allow the residents to realize why this church will ultimately have to be allowed into Rockaway Township. And the fruits of this process have already started to appear. The Copeland vort meeting drew 800 people. The first hearing drew almost as much. The second hearing drew less and the third even less. Many residents are starting to understand the issues and the law. And in the coming weeks, many more will follow this path of enlightenment.

No doubt that the dwindling hard-core group of “Objectors” will remain for quite some time, but as the facts become know, and the law becomes clear, their numbers and support will continue to diminish until they fade into little more than a footnote in this chapter of Rockaway Township’s history.

I vote


Well, I can tell you this....if this thing does get through, the mayor and any other elected official presently in office will not get my vote.

So... while there may be some thoughts of this thing being over, don't you think that a person who enjoys his elected status is crappin' their pants over this?

I don't care what their stand is, or how hard they work to keep the church from coming in, if they don't get the job done by keeping it out, then they'll loose my vote.
Plain and simple ...make the result happen that I want, get my vote, fail, regardless of the effort and you'll loose my vote.




Education, yes--

Of course, oh familiar-sounding one, the law must be followed.

Of course, the attendees have no "say" at this point.

But it's important to stay aware.

Regardless of the outcome of this particular application, hopefully more residents will have their eyes open to what's going on around town.

Our leaders need to learn as well. If they don't, we'll need to choose different ones next election; partly based on how they represent us in times like this.

Ordinances need to be looked at and changed on a regular basis, to make sure we're not blindsided by another surprise from some sort of entity that didn't exist 5 years ago.

So it is important, you're right!

(And as much as I bust Doty's chops, I respect two things about him. One, he's aware of what's happening around him. Two, he owns his opinions and doesn't hide behind lame screen names slinging nonsense.) (Right, Todd?)

Your vote?


So if your elected officials in this case FOLLOW THE LAW then you will no vote for them?

And if they try (and succeed) at subverting the law, THEN they will get your vote?

I don't think too many candidates are concerned with the small proportion of voters who want them to break the law.

Craig Maier


You seem to think that the interpretation of the law is a cut and dry thing.  You make it sound as if it is as simple as solving a simple polynomial equation in the closed form and, voila, out pops the answer. 

The plain and simple truth regarding anything involving the law is that it is neither plain and rarely simple.  So, fret not, citizens of Rockaway Township.  The person who wrote this post is out of touch with reality.  And that is why we have courts.   Ultimately, this thing will be determined in a court of law, probably by the Federal Supreme Court.

To Karen


Although I occasionally agree with "Todd", he by no means wrote the top post in this thread. It is not even close to his style or method. I agree he has referred to some of the points made, but he hasn't labored to explain them nearly as much as has been done here.

Please examine the posts more carefully before you make assumptions about their authors.



I think our mayor and them are doing their best now, but should have done more before. I think they are good and care about the township. Maybe they didn't know how big this church thing was going to be until it was too late.

I would now like them to put into place some kind of policy that makes more accessible to the residents, information on activities taking place in the township. Maybe on a web site somewhere for the township?

Of course I read the newspaper, but this one was already under contract when I found out about it.

For a person who doesn't have the time to attend a lot of meetings every month to hear about a variance for somebody's deck or whatever, where is this information readily available for us to review (i.e. a list of "Pending Applications" for the planning board, a list of real estate transactions in process...).

Or is it available anywhere?

I'd like to get involved more but it's hard because I work and have children too.

Craig misses the point


It may well make it to the Supreme Court, Craig, but that was addressed in the top post as well.

The citizens of Rockaway have no bearing on the decision of the RT Planning Board or of the Supreme Court.

You like to fool yourself that this issue is a 'shade of gray' but in reality, you couldn't be further from the truth.

You can rant and rave all you want, Craig buddy, but in the end it will only profit your shrink.



It doesn't really matter that we can't affect the court process--we know that, thanks!

But we still need to pull together as a township and support our leaders and each other. That's one reason so many people like chatting on these boards; to discuss and share information, ideas and opinions with our neighbors--and even some who aren't our neighbors.

We can disagree, we can argue. (and it won't be deleted).

Of course we can't change the law; if we could, this whole situation wouldn't be happening in the first place.

However, it is possible to interpret the law and find ways to get done what we need done, and still stay within the law.

That's what lawyers are for.

I love Rockaway Township the way it is right now, and don't want any part of it to change any more than it's already about to (the lower green pond area for instance.)

I know I'm not alone in my opinion, for I've spoken to many neighbors who feel the same way.

We live at the upper end of green pond for a reason. Because we want privacy and a more traditional, rural lifestyle; we don't wish to be elbow-to-elbow with others.

Craig Maier


I must disagree here.  Untested laws (like RLUIPA) can be changed.  It just takes good lawyers with lots of determination and information in order to do it. 



RLUIPA sits firmly atop the Freedom of Religion clause in the Constitution. It has the support of the Right and the Left, the Republicans and the Democrats, Clinton & Bush.

Suggesting it will be shot down shows just how far out on the fringe you really are.

In Love...


I love the vort lawyer.

I vote


Your question is a trap.
I'll try to answer it, but I'm sure you'll lay another trap. That's ok.

>>>So if your elected officials in this case FOLLOW THE LAW then you will no vote for them? >>
Your assuming that this is cut and dry case of your way is the lawful way, and any other way is unlawful.

And the short answer is that if this goes through, lawfully or unlawfully, the people running the town failed in there job to represent what was happening, and gave me results in which I am not happy with.

To quote the Mayor:"This is not a done deal" which to me says he thinks the outcome can go either way, and if goes the opposite of what I want, then I'll exercise my right to try to remove them inthe next election.

>>>And if they try (and succeed) at subverting the law, THEN they will get your vote?>>>

What was once unlawful can be made unlawful and vica-verssa.
If they represent and protect what I want in my town they get my vote. Again, you assume this can only be done by breaking a law.

>>>I don't think too many candidates are concerned with the small proportion of voters who want them to break the law.
>>> voice can change the world, and elected officials know this.

Subverting the law...


that was a very toddish post.

1st Amendment

RLUIPA and the constitution

How does RLUIPA sit on top of the constitution?

The first amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

RLUIPA goes WAY beyond that.  If it "sat on top of" the Constitution as you claimed, RLUIPA would never have been enacted.  It's still an untested law.  It's also a long law...Here's a section of it below.  Note that it states that it doesn't cover actions that "is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest".   Our planning board has a compelling government interest to protect our roadways and our environment.  Christ Church will never be in Rockaway Township.  Rev. Ireland will have to take his expensive gas guzzling SUV somewhere else.

      (1) GENERAL RULE- No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly, or institution--

        (A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

        (B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

      (2) SCOPE OF APPLICATION- This subsection applies in any case in which--

        (A) the substantial burden is imposed in a program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability;

        (B) the substantial burden affects, or removal of that substantial burden would affect, commerce with foreign nations, among the several States, or with Indian tribes, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability; or

        (C) the substantial burden is imposed in the implementation of a land use regulation or system of land use regulations, under which a government makes, or has in place formal or informal procedures or practices that permit the government to make, individualized assessments of the proposed uses for the property involved.

I vote

RE: Why Attend the Hearings?

Yeah...what he take that

Ted Doty


The more attendees, the longer it takes and the more intimidating it is...that's the point.

The Planning Board has 7 members but 16 appear on the stage and they all ask questions.  It's a show of force and it takes longer

Unlimited questions from the audience:  if you've ever attended another planning board hearing, you know that isn't normal.  And redundant questions are cut off by Dimin-IMMEDIATELY.  It's being allowed this time because it takes longer.

Why the stall? Simple.

  • The Planning Board will not favor the church for fear the North End Republican base will abandon the Mayor

  • The Planning Board will not vote against the church either.  Denying the CC will bring about a lawsuit and despite Karen's simplistic analysis, it will cost alot of time and money

Two options remain:

  • Dimin redefines "church" and punts to the Board of Adjustments.  This probably won't happen as it would also bring about a lawsuit...and it looks wimpy

The last option is the reason for the foot draging.  The Facility Committee's final report is due March 31 and then the BOE has to decide on a course of action.  Your gutless politicians are waiting for the BOE to pull their rear ends out of the fire. 

Lady Karen


Ahh, the old conspiracy theory rears its ugly head again.

My response was simplistic, huh?

I guess there are lots of us out there that feel the way I do about taking the risk.

It just doesn't make sense to me, to automatically say "Oh well, okay! You got us! The mall area is overdeveloped so we should be too. Come on in."

Why should we fold just because they've got these bullies after us? Screw them.

I vote


"Your gutless politicians are waiting for the BOE to pull their rear ends out of the fire. "

My thought on that statement is an exact equivilent to the church's and thier supporters cries of racisim.....
whatever it take to get the result desired.

Ted Doty



I know you're new, so I'll keep it simple.  The development of the Mall area was by design.  i.e. Inglesino, devlopers, Sceusi, et all.  The only one who balked was Mort Dicker



Yes, Ted, I'm only here a little over 4 years.

My point about the mall was that there are many people who seem to want "no lawsuit" and want us to just give in.

Many of these are the same people from the mall side of town, who say "you didn't raise a stink when the mall was built! Our side of town is overdeveloped!" or "you don't complain about all those people going to the mall, do you?"

If I liked living in an overdeveloped area I would've moved to that side of town.

But I moved up the hill to be away from overdevelopment--and I resent that it's threatening to encroach on our quiet area. Especially without any benefit to the township whatsoever.

Right, todd, except for those swell athletic fields.

Chuck Mueller


Mr Democrocy and the LAW conveniently overlooks one major aspect. ALL laws, no matter how black and white on paper are enforced only through interpretation by those elected in the responsible positions. In this case, all rules involved are VERY much open to interpretation. If no one shows any interest in fighting the application, those officials would understandably take it as blanket approval or at least no disapproval of the application and certainly be less interested in interpreting against the application. The fact that there is extensive opposition being displayed would certainly make any elected official sit up and take notice and make sure all that could be done will be done to defeat the unpopular plan. Likewise with any litigation afterwards. If every decision was pre-destined based on a literal black and white reading then there would be no need for judges to hear the details of each case and weigh the arguments of both sides.

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