On September 14, 2018, Dalton & Tomich attorneys Noel Sterett and Larry Opalewski filed a federal religious land use suit on behalf of Hope Lutheran Church against the City of St. Ignace, MI. The church, which had been meeting at its property at 132 S. State, was told by City officials that its property was not zoned for a church. After the church applied for, and was denied, a variance from the City’s zoning prohibition, the church filed suit in September in order to secure its right to be treated on equal terms with the non-religious assembly uses permitted as of right at the property. The City’s Zoning Code freely permits non-religious assembly uses, such as assembly halls, townhalls, and theaters at the property, but unlawfully prohibits religious assemblies. The Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act, however, requires municipalities to treat religious assemblies and nonreligious assemblies equally. The religious content of an assembly use should not determine whether the use is permitted or prohibited.
Within just six weeks of filing suit and less than a month after the Church filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction, the City agreed to stipulate to an order that allows the Church to use its property for religious assembly and church services during the pendency of litigation in order to address the irreparable harm to the the Church’s religious exercise. The Court entered the order this morning on October 26, 2018 and has provided the parties time to explore whether the rest of the lawsuit can be resolved amicably.
This excellent and swift result is another example of Dalton & Tomich’s commitment to securing the religious land use rights of its clients all across the country.
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