A 2019 report ranked Illinois as the seventh most religiously diverse state in the country. This is a ranking the state should celebrate. Religious diversity is not only a national hallmark but a benefit to our local communities. Our communities are stronger when we are all free to worship and teach our children in accordance with our diverse faiths.
With the increase in religious diversity comes an increase in the number of religious groups looking for a place to worship, educate their children, and live out their beliefs. Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and religious schools of every size and stripe need a place to call home. They need property and buildings sufficient to meet their unique needs. This need has only increased as a result of the pandemic induced school closures. An increasing number of parents are withdrawing their children from public schools and looking to enroll them in private, religious school alternatives. But in many communities there is often a lack of available property and space. And even when religious groups find a property, they all too often find that their intended use is barred by a zoning code.
The story is all too common. After a long and difficult search, a religious group, ministry or school finds a perfectly suitable property. It fits their budget and meets their needs. They do their due diligence and have the building inspected. But they either fail to do their due diligence when it comes to zoning or fail to understand what rights they may have under state and federal law to challenge unlawful zoning restrictions and denials. In either case, the result can be devastating beyond just the financial toll it takes. In some cases, a failed property purchase can even be the death knell for the religious institution as members lose confidence in the leadership, tire of the search for a property, or run out of funds.
To avoid such devastating results and increase the likelihood of finding the right property, here are five things every religious assembly, school and institution should know about zoning in Illinois:
Have you recently purchased a building or land and discovered you can’t use it because it isn’t zoned for religious assembly or a school? 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.