PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit is reviewing a religious discrimination complaint against a community for rejecting a zoning change that would allow construction of a Muslim school.
The Michigan Islamic Academy wants to build at a 26-acre site in Washtenaw County's Pittsfield Township.
"We are reviewing the matter and whether to proceed with a formal investigation," Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Levy said.
On Oct. 26, the township board rejected the request, following an earlier rejection by the township planning commission. School officials say the 200-student school is too big for its location in nearby Ann Arbor.
Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal said the decision isn't based on religion.
"We are an open, respectful and diverse community here in Pittsfield Township," Grewal said after the October decision. "We have a track record, most recently the planning commission approved a mosque."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the decision violated the First Amendment right of religious freedom, and it asked the Justice Department to investigate.
"We believe this is a blatant violation of the (school's) constitutional right to open the school on their property," said Lena Masri, a lawyer for the group.