Temples RLUIPA Lawyers | Dalton and Tomich


Call us today (313) 859-6000!

You have a land us­e issue. You purchased land with the intention of using it for a temple and the local government has denied you the ability to use the land for religious assembly due to zoning issues. What can you do?

If you have run into difficulty securing the permits and approvals needed for your temple there may be a religious protection act or federal law that can help. The experienced attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC can provide the knowledge and guidance you need to solve your religious land use issue as quickly as possible.

Don’t let a local government denial deter your good work. We can help you overcome temple design requirements, zoning issues and many other land use disputes.


Whether you are having difficulty getting temple construction design approval or have been denied the ability to construct altogether, the team at Dalton & Tomich, PLC can guide you through the legal process.

We’ll help you navigate the often complicated process of achieving approval for temple construction projects. The professionals at Dalton & Tomich, PLC have successfully confirmed the rights of many other temples and houses of worship in complex religious land use and zoning cases throughout the United States. From local administrative bodies to federal court, we’re knowledgeable litigation guides that can help you secure zoning approval.

We rely on the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and a federal law called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Our experience at the local and federal court level has led to victories that have enabled temples and others to pursue their important causes by expanding existing buildings, acquiring new land and completing new temple construction projects.

We can often accept a case and begin working with you toward a victory within just a few months. Further, we can pursue additional remedies including monetary damages, attorney fees and injunctive relief allowing you to secure the permits for temple construction.


If a planning commission denied your temple construction project, you may have to take legal action. It’s a long process that can involve numerous parties, experts, documentation and more. The team at Dalton & Tomich, PLC provides a complete range of legal services for your temple. We can:

  • Work to secure necessary approval or denial from the local planning commission or administrative body
  • Assist in navigating the administrative process
  • Support your case in court by finding expert witnesses
  • Collect all the evidence and facts that prove your case
  • Collaborate with you to prepare and finalize pleadings
  • File a Motion for Preliminary Injunction if there’s an opportunity to do so
  • Pursue settlement if it’s in the best interests of the members of your temple
  • Keep you updated on the progress of the case as we move through the process


If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of not being able to use the building or property you just purchased, you should know two things: 1) You aren’t alone. 2) You have options.

This FREE guide will help you understand your rights, navigate your options (litigation might not even be required!) and understand the process for what happens next.

Call us today at (313) 859-6000!

Download Your FREE Guide for Temples


Our nationally recognized RLUIPA attorneys, Daniel P. Dalton and Noel W. Sterett, are the partners you need to protect your rights as a religious organization. After handling hundreds of cases over the last decade, our legal team has gained invaluable experience that can benefit your temple leaders and members.

Dan and Noel are nationally recognized on the topic of religious land use. They have appeared in many publications, including The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Dan is also the author of, Litigating Religious Land Uses Cases, the only book dedicated to RLUIPA.

We’re proud have won religious land use litigation cases across the country.

Real-World Results for Temple Design and Construction

One recent religious land use case got the national spotlight when it was covered by The Atlantic magazine. Working closely with the congregation’s leader to overcome discrimination on the part of a local community in New Jersey, we were able to secure a resolution that enabled the construction of a 717-seat sanctuary critical to the organization’s growth and mission.

Contact Dan or Noel today. Let us serve as your guide and help you obtain the zoning permits and conditional use approvals to allow your temple to grow and serve the community.

View More Case Studies


The experienced religious land use and zoning attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC will defend your temple’s right to grow and to worship freely so your organization can thrive.


Frequently Asked Questions: Temple Requirements and Land Use

When it comes to land use and zoning law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is an invaluable tool for temples and other religious institutions. This religious protection act prevents local governments from discriminating against religious uses in the context of zoning. If secular uses are permitted in a zone, religious uses must also be permitted. This is a federal law.

There are many other claims that can be raised to support local temple construction in a land use dispute. This includes claims under the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause, the Free Speech or Assembly Clauses and the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection clause.

The facts of your case may bring other federal statutes into play as well. These additional laws could include the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disability Act, as well as state constitutional and statutory provisions. We evaluate each claim independently to determine what is the best strategy in moving forward so that you have the best chance of succeeding at trial.

For more on the question of what happens when RLUIPA doesn’t apply, watch our “what if RLUIPA doesn’t apply” video.

Temples and other religious entities have the same ability to be treated fairly and equally in all zoning and land use matters as secular assembly uses. Local governments who discriminate against these institutions are often in violation of RLUIPA and the United States Constitution.

Our video on what to do in the case of a zoning denial is the resource you need. The first step is to see if there are any potential internal appeals in the zoning code. If there are no internal appeals available, and if the facts of your case or the language of the zoning ordinance give you the ability to challenge the denial, you can file suit in state or federal court asserting a just cause of action under RLUIPA.

We are happy to help in these matters. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Conditional use permits provide that a religious use is permitted in the zoning district, but it’s not considered a right. In order to get the conditional use permit, the applicant has to meet certain requirements specified by a local governing agency.

Estimating the time it will take a case to be settled or decided in court is difficult to do because there are a number of factors involved. Generally speaking, it takes 18 months from filing a suit to the trial. During that year and a half, there will be highs and lows. It’s important to prepare for the emotional roller coaster so it’s easier to manage.

Another consideration is that a lot of factors in the case are outside of your control. There’s no way to pick the judge or prevent changes in the laws that impact your case. Therefore, accurately estimating the timeframe and exact course that’s taken is very difficult.

Litigation can be a very expensive endeavor in terms of legal fees and related costs. But it can also be more costly to forfeit your ability to use your land as you intended.

Providing an exact cost for litigation at the beginning of the process is nearly impossible. The cost partly depends on how the other party responds, which we have no control over. We can’t tell you how much a case may cost exactly, but based on our extensive experience we can tell you the estimated cost of the case going forward.

We understand that choosing an attorney is an important decision that can feel overwhelming at times. Our job is to alleviate the burden by guiding you through the litigation process and providing legal services that deliver value.

For more information, view our video on the time and expenses for a typical religious land use case.