Land Use Attorneys
and Business Law Experts

Partners to Religious Organizations and Businesses

Daniel P. Dalton

Daniel P. Dalton

Named one of the top land use and zoning attorneys in the United States by Martindale-Hubbell and a top 25 attorney in the State of Michigan, Daniel P. Dalton focuses his practice on land use and zoning law, focusing on cases under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (also known as RLUIPA), and denominational trust clauses.

He is the author of “Litigating Religious Land Use Cases,” published by the American Bar Association. With a second edition published in October 2016, the book is a useful guide for religious entities and the lawyers who represent them. Additionally, Dan has been quoted by numerous publications across the country, including the Atlantic Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Christianity Today,  the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Crain’s Detroit Business.

Dan received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University and law degree from the University of Detroit, School of Law. Upon graduation from law school, he clerked for Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Dan is the principal attorney in the following religious land use (RLUIPA cases:

  1. Adhi Parasakthi Charitable, Medical, Educational, and Cultural Society of North America v. Twp. of West Pikeland, 09-cv-1626 (E.D. Penn.) (2009)
  2. Academy of Our Lady of Peace v. City of San Diego, Cal., 09-cv-00962 (S. D. Cal.) (2012)
  3. Alger Bible Baptist Church v. Moffatt Township, MI. Case No. 1:13-cv-13637 (N.D. Mich., 2013)
  4. American Islamic Community Center, Inc. v. City of Sterling Heights, Mich., 16-cv-12920 (E.D. Mich.). (2017)
  5. Carlinville Southern Baptist Church v. City of Carlinville, Illinois, Case No. 3:08-cv-3074 (C.D. Illinois, 2008)
  6. Celebration Community Church City of Muskegon, Case No. 1:08-cv-314 (W.D. Michigan, 2008)
  7. Centro de Ensenanza Palabra De Fe, Inc. v. The City of Hialeah, Florida, Case No. 1:17-cv-221524-DPG (S.D., Fl.) (2017)
  8. Church of Our Savior v. City of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., 13-cv-1346 (M.D. Fla.) (2013)
  9. Grace Community Church v. Lenox Township, Case No. 2:06-cv-13526, (E.D. Mich., 2007)
  10. Grace Church of the Roaring Fork Valley v. Pitken County, CO. Case No. 1:05-cv-01673 (US Dist Ct. Colorado, 2010)
  11. Hope Rising Community Church v. Municipality of Penn Hills, Penn., 2:15-cv-01165 (W. D. Pa.). (2015)
  12. House Where Jesus Shines v. City of Belmead, TX. Case No. 6:08-cv-00117, (W.D. Tx., 2009)
  13. Irish Oaks Community Church v. Lapeer Twp., MI. Case NO. 2:17-cv-10547 (E.D. Mi., 2017)
  14. Lighthouse Community Church of God v. City of Southfield, Michigan, Case No. 2:05-cv-40220 (E.D. Mi., 2005)
  15. Lighthouse Rescue Mission, Inc. v. City of Hattiesburg, Miss., 12-cv-184 (S.D. Miss.). (2012)
  16. Marianist Province of the United States, St. John Vianny High School v. City of Kirkwood, Missouri, Case No. 4:17-cv-00805 (E.D. Mo., 2017)
  17. Northridge Church v. Plymouth Township, Michigan, 2:94-cv-74045; 09-2388 (6th COA., 2009)
  18. Salvation Temple Church v. Hazel Park, Michigan, Case No. 2:10-cv-14148 (E.D. Mi., 2010)
  19. Shepherdsfield Church v. Deschutes County, Oregon Planning Commission approval (2017)
  20. Summit Church v. Randolph County Dev. Auth., 15-cv-82 (N.D. W.Va.). (2015)
  21. West Valley Christian Academy v. City of Los Angeles, CA. Case No. 2:17-cv-02275, (Central District, CA., 2017)

Dan assisted in site plan approval before a variety of Planning Commissions int eh following cases:

  1. Triumph Church, Northville Twp., MI, Planning Commission approval (2012)
  2. Valley Family Church, Portage, MI., Planning Commission approval (2010)
  3. Real Life Ministries, Parma Twp. Planning Commission approval (2010)
  4. Life Church, Green Bay, WS. Planning Commission approval, (2015)
  5. The Morris Cerrullo Legacy Center, San Diego, CA. Planning Commission approval (2017)
  6. Shepherdsfield Church v. Deschutes County, Oregon Planning Commission approval (2017)

He has successfully litigated a number of federal cases on behalf of individuals and nonprofits nationwide in land use disputes, some of which include the following:

  1. Planet Aid v. City of St. Johns, Mich., 14-1680 (6th Cir., 2015)
  2. Planet Aid v. Alhambra, CA. Case No. 2:15-cv-02947 (C.D. CA., 2015)
  3. USAgain, LLC v. City of Lake Station, Ind., 14-cv-1743 (N.D. Ind.).
  4. Winter et al. v. Twp. of Greenleaf, 16-cv-10941 (E.D. Mich.)
  5. Paeth v. Worth Township, Case No. 2:08-cv-13926 (E.D. Mich, 2012)

Further, Dan has  assisted local Churches breaking away from their mainline denomointions.  The cases that have gone into litigation include the following:

  1. Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Monastery v. The Romanian Orthodox Episcopoate of America, Washtenaw County Circuit Court, (MI.) Case No. 17-904 –CB
  2. Mead Community Church v. The Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, Superior County Court, Spokane, WA. Case No. 17-2-03719-7 (2017)

In his free time, Dan is an avid swimmer and aspiring runner.

Professional Activity:

  • Top 25 Attorneys in Michigan, 2010. Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
  • Top 5% of all Zoning and Land Use Attorneys in the United States by Martindale Hubble, 2011.
  • Martindale Hubble rating: AV rating since 2000
  • Michigan Super Lawyer: Zoning and Land Use 2009 through present; Corporation Counsel 2010 to present.
  • dBusiness/HOUR magazine, Top Lawyer 2009 through present.
  • Avvo legal ranking – 10 (highest ranking)
  • Life Member of National Registry of Who’s Who of American Lawyers, No. 125584, published, January 2000.
  • Admitted to the American Registry of Distinguished Professionals, July 2014
  • Silver Award, 2015. Alliance Defending Freedom.
  • American Bar Foundation, life member
  • The American Bar Association:
    • The State & Local Government Law Section, former Council member, current chair Religious Land use
    • The Litigation section, Condemnation committee.
    • The Appellate section.
    • The First Amendment section.
    • The Business law section, Banking committee
  • American Planning Association/ Michigan Planning Association
  • Alliance Defending Freedom, ally attorney. Silver Award recipient
  • City of Plymouth, Michigan
    • City Commission, Elected November 2013 and November 2015
    • Zoning Board of Appeals 1990-1994; 2012-2013
    • Planning Commission: 1994-1996
    • Economic Development Corporation, Board of Directors, 1997-2013.
    • Brownfield Redevelopment Corporation, 1997- present
  • Detroit Athletic Club
    • Finance Committee, 2013, 2014
    • Community Development, 2009
  • FINRA, neutral arbitrator
  • Leadership Detroit, (2004-2005) graduate of Class XVI
  • Michigan Bar Association
    • Client Protection Fund, Board of Directors 2006-200
    • Real Estate section, member
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Cabrini Clinic, Detroit, Michigan, Board of Directors, Board Chair, 2009 - present
  • The MORE program, Secretary, Member of the Board of Directors 2010- 2014
  • University of Detroit School of Law, Deans Advisory Board of Directors, 2011- present
  • Plymouth First United Methodist Church, Chair of the Board of Trustees 2011-2014
  • Book
  • Book chapter author
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Rural Land Use Issues in Michigan in NBI Publications, Rural Land Use Issues in Michigan (2004)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Fundamental Zoning and Land Use Actions in NBI Publications, Practical Guide to Zoning and Land Use Law in Michigan (2004)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Understanding the Development and the Utilization of the Master Plan in NBI Publications, Land Use Law: Current Issues in Subdivision, Annexation and Zoning (2006)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act Update in, At the Cutting Edge 2008, American Bar Association (Dwight Merriam ed. 2008)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Top Ten Tips of Litigating Religious Land Use cases, in RLUIPA Reader: Religious Land Uses, Zoning and the Courts, American Planning Association, American Bar Association (Michael Giaimo and Lora Lucero ed. 2009)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Defining “Appropriate Relief” under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act: the Availability of Damages and Injunctive Relief with RLUIPA, in 2010 Zoning and Planning Law Handbook, West Pub. (Patricia Salkin ed. 2010)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act – Recent Developments in At the Cutting Edge 2010, American Bar Association, (Dwight Merriam ed. 2010)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, chapter author, History of Eminent Domain¸ in Eminent Domain: A Handbook of Condemnation Law, American Bar Association (William Scheiderich, Cynthia Fraser & David Callies ed. 2011)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act – Recent Developments in At the Cutting Edge 2011, American Bar Association, (Dwight Merriam ed. 2011)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act: Recent Developments in RLUIPA’s Land Use Jurisprudence in, At the Cutting Edge 2012, American Bar Association, (Dwight Merriam ed. 2012)
  • Law Review
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Defining the Limited Public Purpose Figure, 70 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. Vol. 1. 47 (1992)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Cost of Extradition: Who pays the Expenses of a Fugitive Injure in the Court of his Arrest? ABA State and Local Law News, Vol. 19, No. 3 (1996), reprinted in Public Corporation Law Quarterly, Michigan Bar Ass. April 1996 No. 1.
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Balance Between the ADA and Public Transit Concerns: Seat Belts vs. Civil Rights, 35 Urb. Law Vol. 4, p. 703 (2003)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Downtown Development Guide: How to Establish and Finance a DDA, State Bar of Michigan, Public Corporations Law Quarterly, Spring 2005 No. 1
    • Daniel P. Dalton and Brett Miller. The Ever Expanding Scope of the Americans with Disability Act; Whether Title II of the ADA applies to Zoning Issues, 38 Urb. Law Vol. 3, p. 613 (2006) republished in Zoning and Land Law Report, Vol. 29, No. 10
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act Update, 40 Urb. Law Vol. 3, p. 603
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Religious Land Uses, Zoning and the Courts 2008, American Planning Association, Planning and Environmental Law, July 2009 Vol. 51, No. 7. p. 3.
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies and the Religious Land use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Zoning and Planning Law Report, West Pub., Vol. 31, No. 7 p. 1
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Defining “Appropriate Relief” under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act: the Availability of Damages and Injunctive Relief with RLUIPA, Vol. 2, Issue 2, Alb. L. Rev. 604 (2009).
    • Daniel P. Dalton, A History of Eminent Domain, State Bar of Michigan, Public Corporations Quarterly, Fall 2006 No. 3
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act – Recent Developments, 42 Urb. Law Vol. 3, p. 561 (2010)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act – Recent Developments, 43 Urb. Law Vol. 3, p. 853 (2011)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act: Recent Developments in RLUIPA’s Land Use Jurisprudence, 44 Urb. Law Vol. 3, p. 647 (2012)
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act - Recent Decisions and Developments, 45 Urb. Law Vol. 3, p. 741 (2013).
    • Daniel P. Dalton, Recent Developments in RLUIPA and Religious Land Use -, 46 Urb. Law Vol. 4, p. 849 (2014).
    • Daniel P. Dalton, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act - Recent Decisions and Developments, 47 Urb. Law Vol. 3, p. 419 (Summer, 2015).
  • Magazine contributor – legal updates
    • Islamic Horizons, Daniel P. Dalton, The Law That Defends Builders of Religious Religious Structures, p. 50; January/February 2016
    • Church Solutions: October 2008 and August 2009
    • Church Executive: July 2008, January 2009; May 2010; August 2010; October 2010; January 2011; July 2011; September 2011; January 2012; January 2013; May 2013.
    • Islamic Horizons, Daniel P. Dalton, Mosque Builders Have Rights, p. 30; July/August 2013.
    • Michigan Association of Planners Magazine, Daniel P. Dalton, Bridging the Cultural Gap with Religious Entities, p. 9; May/June 2012
    • Detroiter Magazine; Daniel P. Dalton, Managing Collections: How to Collect Outstanding Debts in a Tough Economy, p. 12 (January 2009)
    • Michigan Banker, Daniel P. Dalton, Guiding Banks Through Michigan, National Economic Changes, p. 22, , Vol. 23, No. 12 (December 2011)
  • March 12, 2016, REALTORS Land Institute, National Land Conference, Dallas, Texas. Land Development, Riparian Rights.
  • November 4, 2015, Audiosolutionz webinar, Understanding the Development and Regulations of the Use of Land: Planned unit Developments and appearing before Planning Commissions
  • October 22, 2015, American Planning Association, webinar panel discussion, Planning for Religious Uses under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
  • October 9, 2014, Michigan Planning Association Annual Conference, Regulation of Donation Bins in Michigan
  • October 8, 2015, Michigan Planning Association, Annual Meeting: Reed v. Gilbert and its impact on Municipal Sign Codes
  • April 5, 2015, American Bar Association, Midyear Meeting, Religion, Zoning and the Courts: application of the Religious Land Use Act to Municipal Planning
  • February 14, 2015, Wayne Law School, Small Business Legal Academy
  • December 15, 2014, webinar panel discussion, International Municipal Lawyers Association, Land Use IMLA Webinar
  • December 2, 2014, Audiosolutionz webinar, Understanding the Development and Regulations of the Use of Land: CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act
  • November 16, 2014, webinar panel discussion: American Bar Association, Litigating Religious Land Use Cases
  • November 4, 2014, Audiosolutionz webinar, Understanding the Development and Regulations of the Use of Land: Riparian Rights and the Right to Farm Act
  • October 7, 2014, Audiosolutionz webinar, Understanding the Development and Regulations of the Use of Land: Litigating land use cases
  • September 9, 2014, Audiosolutionz webinar, Understanding the Development and Regulations of the Use of Land: Planned Unit Developments and appearing before Planning Commissions
  • August 13, 2014, REALTORS web seminar, The Development and Regulations of the use of Land
  • August 5, 2014, Audiosolutionz webinar, Land Use Law Primer: Variances and Zoning Boards of Appeals
  • July 1, 2014, Audiosolutionz webinar, Understanding Land Development and Regulation
  • September 19, 2013, Leadership Macomb, Government Day. Land Use and Zoning Regulations
  • June 5, 2013, Federal Bar Association, webinar: Religious Exercise free of Substantial Burden in Land Use and Beyond
  • May 7, 2013, ADF webinar: Scottsdale, AZ. Protecting Churches from Pre-textual Zoning Ordinances
  • May 3, 2013, ABA State and Local Law Section, Spring Meeting, Nashville, TN. RLUIPA update
  • May 3, 2013, ABA State and Local Law Section, Spring Meeting, Nashville, TN. The Religious Land Use update.
  • November 12, 2012: International Municipal Lawyers Association: teleconference series. Religious Land Use debates
  • November 7, 2012: Addressing contractual claims, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
  • October 17, 2012: Michigan Planning Association, Michigan Land Use and Zoning
  • June 27, 2012: Alliance Defending Freedom, Naples, Florida; Religious Land Use
  • May 2, 2012: Midland County Bar Association, Law Day presenting speaker: Protecting Religious Liberty
  • April 21, 2012: Church of God, State of Michigan State Conference. Hot Topics in the law for Religious Leaders
  • April 20, 2012: American Bar Association, State and Local Law Conference in Washington D.C. Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act year in review
  • April 19, 2012: Michigan Bar Association, Young Lawyers: Starting and operating a law firm
  • January 30, 2012: City of Hamtramck, Michigan; City Council, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals presentation: Understanding Zoning and Religious Land Use
  • November 15, 2011: International Municipal; Lawyers Association webinar: Six fact patterns of Substantial Burden
  • November 11, 2011: Seventh Day Adventist Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Religious Governance and Land Use
  • October 20, 2011: University of Detroit Law School, Best Practices in Law Firm Operations
  • September 16, 2011: Leadership Macomb, Michigan Land Use and Zoning
  • May 13, 2011: Michigan Association of Planners, Lansing Michigan and Legal Update. Paeth Case Study, Lessons Learned
  • April 5, 2011: Stafford Legal Education series, Religious Land Use Claims – Strategies for Local Governments to Avoid or Defend RLUIPA Litigation
  • February 22, 2011: Alliance Defense Fund webinar, Litigating Religious Land Use Cases on behalf of Religious Entities
  • January 24, 2011: St. Clair Community College, The Constitution and Property Rights.
  • March 8, 2011: New York University, School of Law, A Symposium of Religious Land Use Experts
  • January 27, 2011; American Planning Association webinar, Religion, Zoning and the Courts: an Overview of RLUIPA
  • October 1, 2010, ABA State and Local Law Fall meeting, Providence, Rhode Island: Land Use Roundtable
  • April 30, 2010, "Religious Land Use Update, 2010," American Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education presentation
  • March 11, 2010: ABA State and Local Law Spring meeting, Miami, Florida Hot Topics in Land Use
  • September 30, 2009, Michigan Planning Association, Annual Conference, Mt. Pleasant, MI., “Religious Land Use and Zoning.”
  • April 26, 2009, American Planning Association National Planning Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota; “Religion, Zoning and the Courts.”
  • October 3, 2008, “God and the Land Symposium” – the Edwin L. Crawford Memorial Lecture Series, Albany Law School, Albany, New York.