In Arnold v. Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Bd. Of Adjustment, No. 2008-CA-001850-MR, 2010 WL 668664 (Ky. App. Feb. 26, 2010), plaintiffs appealed the Circuit Court’s opinion and order affirming the determination of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Board of Adjustment granting a conditional land use permit to the Versailles United Methodist Church for the construction of a church building, a school building, a gymnasium, and parking areas. On appeal the plaintiffs argued that the Board failed to heed the Woodford County zoning ordinance by defining “church” to include a school and a gymnasium, that the circuit court erred when it affirmed the use of procedures created by the Board’s counsel which, they contend, effectively usurped the fact finding and decision making duties of the Board and, thus, denied them their procedural due process rights, that the Board lacked substantial evidence to reach the conclusion that the Church’s conditional use request should be approved, that the record did not support the conclusion that the Board’s findings relative to RLUIPA were deleted, and finally that that it was error to dismiss their petition for declaratory judgment.
In response to the plaintiffs’ first argument, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that “based on the broad language of the ordinance and the general understanding of the mission of religious organizations, we have no doubt in concluding that not just a single building was contemplated by the Board in its ordinance.” In response to plaintiffs’ second argument the Court held that the plaintiffs did not provided any evidence that the Board’s reliance on counsel’s recommended manner of proceeding was unreasonable or not according to law, and that there was no error as it related to that argument. The Court did however determine that the Board’s action in granting the permit was arbitrary because it lacked substantial evidentiary support, and therefore reversed and remanded for additional findings by the Board in accordance with the Davis decision and KRS Chapter 100.  With Respect to plaintiffs’ argument that the Board’s findings relative to RLUIPA were deleted the Court held that “[t]he Board’s minutes are clear that it never took such action and the Circuit Court’s determination was in error. On remand, the Board shall make appropriate findings under RLUIPA.” The Kentucky Court of Appeals disagreed with plaintiffs’ final argument that it was error to dismiss their petition for declaratory judgment, holding that, “KRS 100.347 provides an exclusive statutory remedy for an appeal from the actions of the Board…A request for a declaratory judgment cannot substitute for an action that is particularly provided for, to be brought in a particular way.” . See Black v. Utter, 303 Ky. 803, 190 S.W.2d 541, 542 (1945); Sullenger v. Sullenger’s Adm’x, 287 Ky. 232, 152 S.W.2d 571, 574 (1941). By unanimous concurrence the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the judgment of the Woodford Circuit Court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.
 “[T]he factual determinations made by the board should demonstrate that it had considered the effect of the proposed land use on the public health, safety and welfare in the zone affected, in adjoining zones and on the overall zoning scheme.” Davis v. Richardson, 507 S.W.2d 446, 449 (1974).
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