You have a land use issue. You purchased land with the intention of using it for a mosque and the local government has denied you the ability to use the land for religious assembly due to zoning issues. What can you do?
The experienced attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC can help you with your mosque land use issue.
We serve as your guide, helping you navigate the often complicated process of achieving approval through the local administrative body or any federal court litigation that might be required to securing mosque zoning approval. The professionals at Dalton & Tomich, PLC have successfully confirmed the rights of mosques and other houses of worship in complex religious land use and zoning cases throughout the United States.
We rely on the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and a federal law called the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Our experience with local administrative bodies and in federal court has led to victories that have enabled mosques and others to pursue their noble missions by expanding existing buildings, acquiring new property and completing new construction projects.
We can often accept a case and begin working with you toward a victory within just a few months. Further, we can pursue remedies including monetary damages, attorney fees and injunctive relief allowing you to secure the permits to open your doors.
Mosque leaders and their members benefit from the experience of our religious land use and zoning attorneys, nationally recognized RLUIPA authorities Daniel P. Dalton and Noel W. Sterett. We have more than a decade of experience with hundreds of cases, winning 98% in all litigation files, more than five times greater than the national average win rate for others.
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.
Dan and Noel have been highlighted as authorities on the topic of religious land use in many publications, including The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Dan is the author of the only book dedicated to RLUIPA. His thoughts on the importance of the law and the houses of worship it protects were also featured in Islamic Horizons magazine.
Contact Dan or Noel today. Let us serve as your guide and help you obtain the zoning permits and conditional use approvals to allow your mosque to grow and serve your community.
Legal services available as we guide your Mosque through the religious land use and zoning process may include:
The experienced mosque land use and zoning attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC will defend your Mosque’s right to grow and to worship freely so your organization can thrive.Connect with a RLUIPA attorney today.
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.