Religious Land Use and Zoning Leaders

National RLUIPA Experience to Help You Grow

Mosque RLUIPA, Land Use and Zoning Legal Services

The law firm of Dalton & Tomich, PLC is a national leader in defending mosques and other religious organizations in complex religious land use and zoning cases. This includes cases under RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act. Whether you are looking to expand the footprint of your existing mosque, seeking approval to purchase a new building or constructing a new mosque, we can provide the legal expertise you need to meet your goals.

Mosque leaders benefit from the experience of attorneys Daniel P. Dalton and Noel W. Sterett, nationally recognized RLUIPA authorities who have successfully represented mosques and other religious institutions across the country in land use and zoning cases. Dalton’s thoughts on the importance of the law and the houses of worship it protects have been featured in many national and regional media outlets, including Islamic Horizons magazine.

One RLUIPA case that grabbed national attention was that of the American Islamic Community Center mosque in its suit against the City of Sterling Heights, Michigan. Working closely with AICC leaders, Dalton & Tomich helped the mosque overcome unfounded and unfair opposition from the city planning commission to move forward with plans to build a new mosque in the community.

Islamic leaders who engage Dalton & Tomich to defend their religious freedoms in land use and zoning cases gain a partner who is deeply invested in the well-being of the mosque community and its members. We have partnered with local mosques both as general counsel and special litigation counsel.

Our first step and top priority for any new client is to determine what is preventing you from fulfilling the needs of your congregation. We will work with you to determine how we can help to break down those barriers.

Our legal services for mosques engaged in religious land use and zoning cases under RLUIPA, RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) or other legislation include:

  • securing necessary approval, or denial, from a local planning commission or other local administrative body
  • advising on how to proceed with the local administrative process
  • securing expert witnesses to support your action in court, which could include planning, zoning, traffic and other professionals
  • gathering all the facts and evidence
  • working with you to determine how to best prepare and finalize pleadings, then filing suit
  • filing a Motion for Preliminary Injunction at the outset if there is an opportunity to do so
  • pursuing settlement or moving forward to trial, depending on your needs and the best interests of the members of your mosque
  • keeping you updated on the progress of the case, and your budget, throughout the process


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

Connect with a RLUIPA attorney today.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When it comes to land use and zoning law, RLUIPA is the great equalizer for mosques and other religious institutions. The law prevents local governments from discriminating against religious uses in the context of zoning. We offer more information on RLUIPA, including our "What is RLUIPA?" video, on our About RLUIPA page.

There are many other claims that can be raised to support a local mosque in a land use dispute. This includes claims under the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause, the Free Speech or Assembly Clauses, or the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection clause. The facts of your case may bring other federal statutes into play as well. These may include the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disability Act, as well as constitutional and statutory provisions at the state level. We evaluate each claim independently to determine what is the best strategy in moving forward on a claim to give you the best chance of succeeding at trial. For more on the question of what happens when RLUIPA doesn't apply, watch our video.

Mosques 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 may be a good resource. The first step is examining the zoning code to see if any additional internal appeals can be taken. If there are no internal appeals and if the facts of your case or the language of the zoning ordinance gives you the ability to challenge the denial, you can file suit in state or federal court asserting a 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 not as of right. For the use to be permitted, the applicant must meet certain requirements or conditions in the ordinance and and secure approval from a local governing agency.

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on many different factors, but in general, the time frame from filing suit until you have a trial date is 18 months. The 18 months will be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with both high and low points. Since many of the factors of the case are outside your control (for example the judge and changes in the law), a timeframe and exact path is difficult to predict. Simply put, there are no guarantees. Read more about the stages of the litigation process for a religious land use case on our blog. Our video on the time and expenses for a typical religious land use case would be another good resource.

Litigation can be very difficult and it is nearly impossible to determine up front what the economic and non-economic costs might be. Much of the answer depends on the response from the other side of the case. While we cannot tell you how much a case may cost, we can tell you (based on our extensive experience), the anticipated cost of cases moving forward.We understand that considering potential costs and all the other factors that go into choosing an attorney can be a frustrating process. We will work with you to alleviate that frustration, taking the time to understand your needs so we can help you determine your budget and the scope of services that will give you the best value for your money. Our video on the time and expenses for a typical religious land use case would be another good resource. We enjoy working with clients to formulate cost-effective and creative solutions so you can make the right choice.