1.10.17: Zoning Laws and Houses of Faith & The Weird History of Solar Power

Jan 10, 2017

An Islamic group says the permitting process for building a mosque has become "Kafkaesque". The town says that's normal for development, but the Justice Department says it's discrimination. What happens when religion and zoning collide?

Plus, a primer on net-metering -- the system that's now the bedrock and rationale for America’s solar industry - and it happened without any planning, strategy or government approval. We'll learn about the accidental origins of solar policy.

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Zoning Laws & Houses of Faith

Getting buildings built can be a steep climb. Developers can spend months, even years canvassing local officials, boards and residents and end up scrapping their plans. After 39 public hearings, an Islamic group in New Jersey charges that the approval process for a proposed mosque has become "Kafkaesque". Bernards Township is just one in a growing number of towns using zoning laws as barriers to new mosques and Islamic schools. And now it's being sued for discrimination by the justice department. Mark Goldfeder is a senior lecturer at Emory University School of Law and senior fellow at the University’s Center For the Study of Law and Religion, and joins us with more on how this and similar cases could fare under the incoming administration.

Related: "The Mosque Next Door: City Law vs. Houses of Faith"

Pants on Fire

For nearly a century, law enforcement has tried to determine a suspect's truthfulness through a number of means: body language, micro expressions, lie detector tests, sheer intuition. Yet, despite all the research and interrogation techniques, deception can remain undetected. So, are we doomed to ignorance? Maybe not. This story comes to us from Phoebe Judge and the podcast Criminal.

You can listen to this story again at: This is Criminal

The Weird History of Solar Power

Congestion, capacity, distribution zone, these yawn-inducing terms—which could apply to traffic infrastructure—are belong in the energy industry lexicon. Here's another one you may have heard: net metering. Net metering is associated with solar power, and is the subject of big policy battles happening all over the country, and though it might sound a bit boring to non-energy types, Sam Evans-Brown is here to tell us why net metering is important and interesting.

Learn more about net metering from Outside/In: Episode 28: The Accidental History of Solar Power

The Little Company That Could

The San Francisco Bay Area has historically been home to a thriving Chinese immigrant community, but few people think of New Orleans as another place these immigrants have come to call home. Producer Laine Kaplan-Levenson and the Tripod Series from WWNO bring us the story of one man's family business that helped build New Orleans.  

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org: The Little Company That Could