.- A federal judge ordered on Monday that Colorado's Boulder County must pay more than $1.25 million in attorney's fees to Rocky Mountain Christian Church, which claimed that the county violated its civil rights.
The payment is the consequence of a 2008 Denver court ruling in which Boulder County was found guilty of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000.
“This fee decision shows that cities need to take RLUIPA seriously,” said Eric Rassbach, National Litigation Director for the Becket Fund, who helped represent the church.
The recent reward comes in the wake of a three year court battle between Rocky Mountain Christian Church and Boulder County. The county had refused to approve the necessary permit that would have allowed to church a $30 million expansion. Boulder County cited the rural nature of the area as sufficient reason to deny the permit.
According to the Becket Fund, Rocky Mountain Christian Church and their adjoining K-8 academy filed a zoning permit application in 2004. Though Boulder County approved a similar permit for a secular school nearby, they refused to give one to the church.
On Nov. 18, 2008, Rocky Mountain Christian Church won the federal district case in Denver after a jury sided with their cause.