The only thing better than a win is a quick win. Case in point, just over a week after we filed suit on behalf of Mount Zion Ministries Church (also operating as Redeemer Church), we were able to obtain an order protecting the church’s right to use its property for religious assembly. The church acquired property in the Town of Whitestown, N.Y. on January 8, 2020. Under Whitestown’s Zoning Code, nonreligious assembly uses (e.g. clubs, lodges, and municipal buildings) are permitted at the property but religious assembly uses are not. Because this unequal treatment constitutes a facial violation of the “equal terms” provision of the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §2000cc(b)(1), we filed suit seeking immediate injunctive and declaratory relief from the unequal terms. Our experience litigating these cases and negotiating with municipalities across the country helped us secure our client’s rights without months, if not years, of costly litigation.
When it comes to litigating religious land use cases, the value in both time and money of having an experienced attorney on your side can’t be overstated. While not every case presents an opportunity for a quick and efficient win (because many municipalities decide to fight tooth and nail), an inexperienced attorney is more likely to miss opportunities and cost their client tons of time and money. Our goal at Dalton & Tomich is not just to help our clients accomplish their objectives but to help them accomplish them sooner rather than later. We are so thankful that the church can now focus on working together with Town officials to better serve the Whitestown community. We also appreciate the responsiveness of the Town board and Town attorney.
This case is another reminder of how important it is for religious institutions (churches, synagogues, mosques, religious schools, etc.) to be aware of the significant protections they are afforded under federal law. Far too many religious institutions are losing opportunities to better serve their communities because they are not familiar with RLUIPA.
Have you recently purchased a building or land and discovered you can’t use it because it isn’t zoned for religious assembly? Learn how to navigate the process and win the right to use your property .Download Now
The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC have the experience and the knowledge to work with you to develop a legal solution that helps accomplish your goals. Our collaborative approach has helped leaders like you grow businesses and banks, develop and expand churches, and build nonprofit organizations nationwide.
In my role as Administrative Bishop for the Church of God, quite often we are faced with issues that involve local governments and municipalities. Many of these issues that arise in dealing with entities are land use related. I have found Dalton & Tomich’s experience and expertise in this area to be a valuable resource and asset in every situation.
Never one time during a year-long litigation process did Dalton & Tomich demonstrate anything other than Christ-like professionalism. They managed the legal details, while we continued to do church. How they managed themselves, managed our case, and represented our church set the table for me and our church to be where we are today.
Dalton & Tomich’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. Their personal interest in helping us went “above and beyond” just the call of duty.