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Attorneys for

Your Temple Matters. We Can Help.

The experienced religious land use and zoning attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC will defend your temple’s right to grow and to worship freely so your organization can thrive.

It happens more often than religious groups realize. You purchased land with the intention of using it for a temple, but the local government denied you the ability to use the land for religious assembly due to zoning issues.

What can you do?

Dalton & Tomich can guide you through the complicated zoning process. If you need help securing permits and approvals needed for your temple, there may be a religious protection act or federal law that can help. Don’t let a local government denial deter your temple’s good work. We can help you overcome design requirements, zoning issues, and many other land use disputes.

sunset inside a temple

If your temple is seeking to expand its campus or add to existing structures and you are facing opposition from a local governing body, you have options. There are laws that may give you the right to use the land for a temple even if local entities are against the project. Our success before local administrative bodies and in federal court has enabled temples to pursue their missions, acquire new property, expand existing buildings, and complete new construction projects. In addition to zoning approval, we have helped clients recover monetary damages, attorney fees, and injunctive relief, allowing you to secure the permits for temple construction.

Our cases often involve a house of worship's rights under:

Let us guide you through the legal process of temple construction

Whether you are still trying to get temple construction design approval or have been denied the ability to construct altogether, the Dalton & Tomich, PLC team can guide you through the legal process.

We’ll help you navigate the often complicated process of achieving approval for temple construction projects. The professionals at Dalton & Tomich, PLC have successfully confirmed the rights of many other temples and houses of worship in complex religious land use and zoning cases throughout the United States. From local administrative bodies to federal courts, we’re knowledgeable litigation guides that can help you secure zoning approval.

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 and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Our experience at the local and federal court levels has led to victories that have enabled temples and others to pursue their important causes by expanding existing buildings, acquiring new land, and completing new temple 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 additional remedies, including monetary damages, attorney fees, and injunctive relief, allowing you to secure the permits for temple construction.


If you are being blocked from using the building or property you just purchased for your temple, you should know two things: 1) You are not alone. 2) You have options.

This FREE guide will help you understand your rights, navigate your options, and understand the process for what happens next.

Call our office at (313) 859-6000

Temple Land Use and Zoning Legal Services

If you need help overcoming zoning barriers to your plans to construct, renovate, or expand your house of worship, Dalton & Tomich, PLC is here to guide you. We work with temple leaders to overcome many challenges related to:

How we help you fight for the right to use your land

From the beginning of engagement, we want you to fully understand your objectives and identify any barriers preventing your temple from reaching its goals. Dalton & Tomich will help you overcome any legal challenge standing in the way of your goals. 

If a planning commission denies your temple construction project, you may have to take legal action. It is a long process that can involve numerous parties, experts, documentation, and more. Our team provides a complete range of legal services for your temple. We will:

outside temple

Real-World Results for Temple Design and Construction

Dalton & Tomich, PLC litigated a decade-old case on behalf of Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County in New Haven, CT. The Chabad sued the Litchfield Historic District, alleging the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) violations. Ultimately, the court issued the Chabad the Certificate of Appropriateness and awarded them nearly a million dollars in attorney fees and costs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to land use and zoning law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is an invaluable tool for temples and other religious institutions. This religious protection act prevents local governments from discriminating against religious uses in the context of zoning. If secular uses are permitted in a zone, religious uses must also be permitted. This is a federal law.

Many other claims can be raised to support local temple construction in a land use dispute. This includes claims under the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause, the Free Speech or Assembly Clauses, and the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

The facts of your case may bring other federal statutes into play as well. These additional laws could include the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disability Act, as well as state constitutional and statutory provisions. We evaluate each claim independently to determine what is the best strategy in moving forward so that you have the best chance of succeeding at trial.

For more on the question of what happens when RLUIPA doesn’t apply, watch our “What if RLUIPA doesn’t apply” video.

Temples 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 often violate RLUIPA and the United States Constitution.

Our video on what to do in the case of a zoning denial is the resource you need. The first step is to see if there are any potential internal appeals in the zoning code. If there are no internal appeals available, and if the facts of your case or the language of the zoning ordinance give you the ability to challenge the denial, you can file suit in state or federal court asserting a just cause of action under RLUIPA.

We are happy to help in these matters. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Conditional use permits permit religious use in the zoning district, but it’s not considered a right. In order to get the conditional use permit, the applicant has to meet certain requirements specified by a local governing agency.

Estimating the time it will take a case to be settled or decided in court is difficult to do because there are a number of factors involved. Generally speaking, it takes 18 months from filing a suit to the trial. During that year and a half, there will be highs and lows. It’s important to prepare for the emotional roller coaster so it’s easier to manage.

Another consideration is that a lot of factors in the case are outside of your control. There’s no way to pick the judge or prevent changes in the laws that impact your case. Therefore, accurately estimating the timeframe and exact course that’s taken is very difficult.

Litigation can be a very expensive endeavor in terms of legal fees and related costs. But it can also be more costly to forfeit your ability to use your land as you intended.

Providing an exact cost for litigation at the beginning of the process is nearly impossible. The cost partly depends on how the other party responds, which we have no control over. We can’t tell you how much a case may cost exactly, but based on our extensive experience, we can tell you the estimated cost of the case going forward.

We understand that choosing an attorney is an important decision that can feel overwhelming at times. Our job is to alleviate the burden by guiding you through the litigation process and providing legal services that deliver value.

For more information, view our video on the time and expenses for a typical religious land use case.

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