Religious Land Use and Zoning Leaders

National RLUIPA Experience to Help You Grow

Noel W. Sterett

Attorney Noel W. Sterett describes the core of his practice as a devotion to “ensuring people are free to serve God and their neighbors in their communities and in the marketplace.” This passion for securing religious liberty has led Sterett to successful collaborations with pastors and other religious leaders of all faiths across the country. He has helped win dozens of land use cases enabling congregations to use newly-purchased buildings and land to accomplish their noble missions.

The Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is an area of particular focus for Noel. Enacted in 2000, the law protects religious assemblies and institutions from zoning and land use regulations that substantially interfere with their religious exercise. In addition to litigating religious land use cases, Noel regularly advises religious groups on civil rights matters and how best to secure zoning for religious land uses. His insight into religious legal matters has been highlighted in publications including Church Law & Tax.

In April 2018, Noel co-authored an amicus curiae brief with Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys in defense of the ministerial housing allowance in the case of Gaylor v. Mnuchin. Nearly 9,000 ministers across the nation signed the brief.

Prior to joining Dalton & Tomich, PLC in May 2018, Noel worked as an attorney and partner for Mauck & Baker, LLC in Chicago for 11 years. He is an allied attorney and member of the National Litigation Academy Honor Corps of the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christian Legal Society.

Noel sits on the board and is an active volunteer for Courtside Ministries, a prayer ministry that organizes volunteers from local churches to pray for people as they come in and out of courthouses across the country.

Noel is a graduate of Regent University’s School of Law in Virginia and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Truman State University in Missouri. He is a member in good standing and admitted to practice in the: State of Illinois (2007), United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2007), United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (2012), United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2012), and United States Supreme Court (2018).

Noel resides in Rockford, Illinois with his wife and four children.

Professional Activity:

  • Apostolic Church v. Borough of Pemberton, 10-cv-03609 (N.J. 2010)
  • Harvest Market Missionary Ministries, v. Borough of Pine Hill, 11-cv-01179 (N.J. 2011)
  • Iglesia Cristiana Renacer v. City of Lynn, 11-cv-11945 (Mass. 2011)
  • No Limits Christian Ministries, Inc. v. City of Mountain Home, 11-cv-00255 (Idaho 2011)
  • Teesdale v. City of Chicago, 792 F. Supp. 2d 978 (N.D.Ill. 2011)
  • Harvest Covenant Church v. City of Milwaukee, 12-cv-00549 (E.D. Wisc. 2012)
  • The Life Center, Inc. v. City of Elgin, 13-cv-2842 (N.D. Ill 2013)
  • Lela, et. al. v. Board of Trustees, 14-cv-05417 (N.D. Ill. 2014)
  • Mount Zion Church of God in Christ v. Garden City, 14-cv-01361 (Kansas 2014)
  • River Hills Community Church v. Village of Sauk City, 14-cv-00048 (W.D. Wisc. 2014)
  • Liberty Baptist Church v. Crawford County, 15-cv-01130 (Kansas 2015)
  • World Outreach Conference Center v. City of Chicago, 787 F.3d 839 (7th Cir. 2015)
  • The King’s Tabernacle v. Town of Johnston, Rhode Island, 16-cv-00030 (Rhode Island 2016)
  • Original Bible Church of Illinois v. City of Markham, 16-cv-11315 (N.D. Illinois 2016)
  • New Life in Jesus Ministry v. City of Dothan, Alabama, 17-cv-00694 (Alabama 2017
  • Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island, 860 F.3d 580, 581 (7th Cir. 2017)
  • Service Award, Alliance Defending Freedom, 2017
  • Bronze Service Award, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • National Litigation Academy Honor Corps, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • 2014 Rising Star, Illinois Super Lawyers
  • Illinois Super Lawyers list, 2015 and 2016
  • Member, Christian Legal Society
  • Allied Attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Board Member, Courtside Ministries
  • Advisory Council Member, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA)
  • Amicus curiae brief in support of the ministerial housing allowance in Gaylor v. Mnuchin (2018)
  • Amicus curiae brief filed in the United States Supreme Court case of NIFLA v. Becerra on behalf of 23 Illinois pregnancy care centers.
  • “Leveling the Playing Field: A Guide for Churches Navigating the Religious Land Use and Zoning Process,” with Daniel P. Dalton, May 2018
  • Noel has had many speaking engagements, including:
    • “Religious Land Use Litigation Since 2000,” ABA Midyear Meeting, Houston 2015
    • “When Civil Liberties and Zoning Powers Collide,” Christian Legal Society