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Eagle Cove Camp & Conference Center, Inc. v. Town of Woodboro, Wisconsin

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

October 30, 2013

EAGLE COVE CAMP & CONFERENCE CENTER, INC., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
TOWN OF WOODBORO, WISCONSIN, Oneida County, Wisconsin, and Oneida County Board of Adjustment, Defendants-Appellees.

Argued Sept. 10, 2013.

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Roman Storzer, Storzer & Greene, New York, NY, Robert Leo Greene, Jr., Storzer & Greene, Washington, DC, Robert Leo Greene, Jr., Roman Storzer, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Andrew A. Jones, Whyte HirschboeckDudek S.C., Milwaukee, WI, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before KANNE, WILLIAMS, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

KANNE, Circuit Judge.

Eagle Cove Camp & Conference Center, Inc. (" Eagle Cove" ) appeals from the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of the Town of Woodboro, (" Woodboro" ) Oneida County and the Oneida County Board of Adjusters (collectively " the County" ). Eagle Cove alleged that Woodboro and the County's land use regulations, which prohibit them from running a year-round Bible camp on residentially zoned property, violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (" RLUIPA" ), the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and the Wisconsin Constitution. Eagle Cove also sought state certiorari review under Wisconsin Statute § 59.694(10). For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Town of Woodboro and Oneida County

Woodboro comprises approximately 750 residents and about 21,857 acres of land. Oneida County has 708,751 acres of land. Squash Lake is partially located in Woodboro. Pursuant to Wisconsin Statute § 60.62(1), Woodboro adopted a Land Use Plan in 1998, which seeks to " encourage low density single family residential development for its lake-and river-front properties." (R. 63-20 at 9.) The plan incorporated a survey Woodboro took that found the majority of the residents desired to maintain the town's rural and rustic character. In 2009, Woodboro adopted a Comprehensive Plan in accordance with Wisconsin Statute § 66.1001 that incorporates the aforementioned language.

The zoning around Squash Lake reflects the goals set forth in the plans and the survey. There are one hundred seventy-seven parcels of real estate on Squash Lake, and all but seven are zoned for single-family uses. The seven parcels that are not zoned for single-family use are zoned for business and were grandfathered into the zoning plan as pre-existing uses during the initial zoning in 1976.

On May 8, 2001, Woodboro voluntarily subjected itself to the Oneida County Zoning and Shoreland Protection Ordinance (" OCZSPO" ), which establishes zoning districts throughout the County. Towns must elect to be subordinate to the OCZSPO's provisions. In doing so, they relinquish zoning authority to the County.

According to the OCZSPO, religious land uses are permitted throughout the County and Woodboro. Year-round recreational and seasonal camps are permitted on thirty-six and seventy-two percent of the County, respectively. In addition, churches and religious schools are allowed

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on sixty percent of the land in the County. Churches and schools are permitted on nearly forty-three percent of the land in Woodboro and campgrounds (religious or secular) on approximately fifty-seven percent.

B. The Proposed Bible Camp

Eagle Cove sought to construct a Bible camp on thirty-four acres of property that they own on Squash Lake in Woodboro. Eagle Cove believes that their religion mandates that the Bible camp must be on the subject property. Eagle Cove also believes that they must operate the Bible camp on a year-round basis. Neither of these beliefs is in dispute.

The subject property's eastern parcels are zoned Single Family Residential and the western parcels are zoned Residential and Farming. As the OCZSPO states, " The purpose of the Single Family Residential District is to provide an area of quiet seclusion for families. This is the County's most restrictive residential zoning classification. Motor vehicle traffic should be infrequent and people few." (R. 63-1 at 12.) The land was not ...


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