Last night I was honored to speak on a panel hosted by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice at Marquette Law School in Milwaukee, WI. The panel discussion was part of the United States Attorney General’s Place to Worship Initiative and was entitled “Building Faith: Protecting Religious Freedom Through Land Use Laws.” I was joined on the panel by my former client Pastor Dennis Virta of River Hills Church in Sauk City, WI, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Yun, and Milwaukee-area attorney Michael Dean (who assisted me as local counsel in a successful religious land use suit against Milwaukee in 2013).
The event was well attended. Nearly seventy people from a wide variety of faith groups were there to learn more about how the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) protects their places of worship and can help them overcome unjust land use regulations. I was able to speak about the many cases we have successfully litigated all across the country. My former client Pastor Dennis Virta was able to personally share about how I employed RLUIPA to help save his church. Pastor Virta’s church is now a thriving and contributing part of the Sauk City community.
Despite RLUIPA’s protections, religious institutions and assemblies are increasingly finding it difficult to secure land on which to operate or expand. Local governments are often opposed to “losing” property to religious groups because they are only focused on preserving their property tax revenue. In some communities, it is nearly impossible to start a new place of worship or expand. The heart of our work at Dalton & Tomich is to help religious institutions and assemblies better understand what they can do to overcome the land use and zoning obstacles which are standing in the way of their growth and development.
We appreciate all the Department of Justice is doing in and through its Place to Worship Initiative to raise awareness in this area. I want to thank United States Attorney Ryan Lee for inviting me to share about how we have successfully protected religious communities across the country both in and out of court. If you have additional questions regarding RLUIPA, please feel free to contact me.
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
Dalton & Tomich, PLC is the national leader in successfully helping churches, other religious institutions and their insurers defend their rights in land use and zoning matters under RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. We have helped clients win cases against municipalities and other local government bodies from coast to coast, with experience serving both as general counsel and special litigation counsel.
In 2015, Hope Rising Community Church experienced extreme opposition, the kind that would force it to close its doors and leave behind the families and youth it was so passionate about reaching. As the lead pastor I felt helpless, inferior and as if I had no […]Read More
Dalton & Tomich’s assistance in our RLUIPA matter has paved the way for our church to continue serving the community and for new churches in the area to thrive in the future. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your stand for religious […]Read More
The Urban Church will be forever grateful to Dalton & Tomich plc for navigating it through a difficult land use issue. Let them give you honest and caring advice because that’s exactly what they’ll do.Read More
Dalton & Tomich, PLC defended a complicated case at a church we insure. Not only is the firm professional, they understand how church business runs and work well within church leadership.Read More
Dalton & Tomich, PLC helped us immensely in the areas of litigation and negotiation! Their professionalism and understanding of church policy helped our church be victorious in a modern day religious land use battle. RLUIPA Religious Land Use Case: Lighthouse Community Church of GodRead More
Dalton & Tomich, PLC serves as General Counsel for the 144 churches within the Church of God in Michigan. The firm provides the legal expertise we need in dealing with the issues that arise during the course of fulfilling our ministry.Read More
I met Dan Dalton during a dark time for our church. He was recommended as the leading RLUIPA attorney in the nation. He demonstrated wisdom, expertise, a gentle nature, a calming inter-relational skill, genuineness, and a humble demeanor, while at the same time, being sharp, […]Read More
Mr. Dalton’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. His personal interest in helping our church went “above and beyond” just the call of duty. His understanding of both legal and spiritual matters seems to uniquely […]Read More