Is Religious Use Related to Public Health Safety Welfare and Morals ?
In Cornell Univ. v. Bagnardi, 68 NY2d 583, 593) the Court of Appeals reaffirmed the presumption that a religious use is always in furtherance of the public health, safety and morals but in so doing essentially adopted the concurring opinion of then Chief Judge Breitel in Jewish Reconstructionist Synagogue v. Incorporated Vil. of Roslyn Harbor (38 NY2d 283, supra), that the presumption is not absolute and conclusive but may be rebutted by a showing of an actual negative impact upon the community.
In so doing, the Court specifically rejected defendants' attempt to broaden the criteria used to prohibit a proposed religious use to include a requirement that the church demonstrate some need for its proposal. Church or institutional need is unrelated to the issue of public health, safety and welfare.
The imposition of such a requirement is beyond the municipality's police power and thereby the municipality's zoning authority (Cornell Univ. v. Bagnardi, supra, at 597).