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2012 Speaker Series - February 29

* Please note that due to the Planning Departments’ observance of Black History Month with scheduled activities, February’s Speaker Series will be held on the 5 th Wednesday.

Topic: Learning from the Nation: Lessons from Ten Years of RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) Litigation - View Presentation here.
Date/Time: Feburary 29, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
Location: Media Room, 1 st Floor, County Administration Building (CAB), 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772;
CM & Legal Credit: 1.5 hours
Speaker/Instructor: Gillian K. Bearns, M.R.P., J.D.
Speaker/Instructor’s Biography:

Gillian K. Bearns has worked within the field of land use law representing both local governments and religious institutions in RLUIPA cases before local administrative agencies and in federal court. She participated in a notable RLUIPA jury trial in federal district court in Baltimore, MD in 2010. She has worked for the planning departments of local governments in Connecticut and Massachusetts and currently works for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.


The purpose of the session is to provide a solid understanding of the scope and legal implications of the land use provisions of the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) for local governments. This includes explaining when the law applies, the extent of liability not only for the governmental entity but also for individual government officials or representatives and the potential for damages and attorney’s fees. Emphasis is given to terms and provisions that were not well defined in the statute but have been better defined by the courts. Numerous cases are referenced and cited to provide real world examples of how liability arises from local government actions. The presentation also provides concrete realistic suggestions as to how local governments and government officials and representatives can avoid and/or mitigate potential liability under RLUIPA. The session is geared towards those working in zoning, planning and building departments of local governments, those serving on administrative committees, boards and commissions who render decisions on land use applications and local government attorneys who serve as counsel for these departments, boards and commissions. Attendees should be able to take proactive measures to address potential pitfalls in their zoning codes and their land use application review processes following this session and should feel more confident if and when a religious institution files a permit application that the proper result will be achieved without costly litigation.