By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Property owners who sued the Bay View Association on charges of religious discrimination in 2017 scored a victory this week. A Department of Justice mediator hammered out an agreement with the community’s board of trustees, following HUD’s determination in February.
As reported in February, HUD found that Bay View’s policy requiring new homeowners to be practicing Christians was a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms and the Fair Housing Act.
As part of a formal consent decree, Bay View’s Trustees agreed that the federal government would review all cottage sale agreements for the next five years.
DOJ made it clear that, after the 5-year monitoring period, Bay View’s legal obligation to refrain from religious discrimination is permanent.
The federal government also ruled that Bay View could no longer stack a majority its board of trustees with practicing Methodists. Bay View’s board of trustees agreed to end this illegal practice. The Association must also pay $75,000 in Plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.
About Bay View Association
Bay View is an historic 337-acre village on the shores of Little Travers Bay, Michigan. The village consists of 444 cottages, a historical museum, a bed and breakfast and two privately owned inns.
Cottage owners lease the land from Bay View Association. The community was chartered as a town in 1875.
The Association historically hosted recreational activities with an emphasis on religious values of the Methodist Church. However, Bay View is not, and never was, a church-affiliated religious community.
Several years ago, a group of cottage owners, Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness Group, sued Bay View Association. The lawsuit claimed that the Association rejected home buyers and heirs applications to own cottages in the village, based upon Bay View’s rules requiring homeowner members to be active members of a Christian or Methodist church.
The lawsuit also referenced historic Bay View restrictions against non-Caucasians and a quote on Catholics.
Bay View Association later rescinded religious requirements, but continued to favor applications based upon religious affiliation.
This week’s agreement for a 5-year federal review period will help ensure that Bay View Association remains open to applications from people of all faiths. ♦
Read more for the complete back story:
Christian requirement at Northern Michigan resort illegal, federal government says
Updated Jul 10, 2019; Posted Jul 10, 2019, By John Agar | Michigan Live