Your Synagogue Matters. We Can Help.
If your synagogue 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 land for a synagogue even if local entities are against the project. Our success before local administrative bodies and in federal court has enabled synagogues 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 synagogue construction.
Our cases often involve a house of worship's rights under:
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Synagogue Land Use and Zoning Legal Services
How we help you fight for the right to use your land
From the onset of engagement, our top priority is to fully understand your objectives and identify any barriers preventing your synagogue from achieving its goals. If a planning commission denied your 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 synagogue. We will:
In some communities, Jewish synagogue projects face little to no opposition. In others, synagogue builders can come up against zoning regulations and land use laws that prevent the expansion and construction of synagogues.
If you find yourself in the latter group, you need the experience of Dalton & Tomich, PLC. Our religious land use attorneys can help you with a wide range of building and zoning issues that are delaying your project.
Allow us to be your guide to the religious land use act
The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich can help you navigate the often complicated process of achieving zoning approval for your mosque or community center. If necessary, we can also help if your case requires federal court litigation.
The professionals at Dalton & Tomich, PLC have successfully defended the rights of mosques and other houses of worship in complex religious land use and zoning cases throughout the United States. Our attorneys are well-versed in:
Our experience with local administrative bodies and in federal court has led to victories that have enabled faith communities to pursue their noble missions by expanding existing buildings, acquiring new property, and completing new construction projects. Cases may involve the pursuit of remedies including monetary damages, attorney fees, and injunctive relief allowing you to secure the permits to open your doors.
Our thoughts on the importance of the Religious Land Use Act to houses of worship have been featured in Islamic Horizons magazine and major news outlets.
Speciality land use and zoning services for Jewish building projects
The construction of synagogues is hindered by many of the same challenges other houses of worship face. Our team is experienced in handling highly specialized cases involving synagogue construction and religious protection acts.
Legal services available to synagogue builders include:
Real world results for religious schools
Academy of Our Lady of Peace
Dalton & Tomich partnered with the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego to protect the right of the girls’ Catholic school to modernize its facility when it was faced with unfounded opposition from the city council. Working in close collaboration with local attorneys and the school’s leadership team, Dalton secured a settlement that included cash as well as fast-tracked approval for all requested permits.
Real-World Results for Jewish building projects
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 synagogues 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.
There are many other claims that can be raised to support local synagogue 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.
Synagogues 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 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 contact us if you have any questions.
Conditional use permits provide that a religious use is permitted 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.