IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
THE CITY OF JANESVILLE, IOWA
The United States of America alleges:
1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the
Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.
(the "Fair Housing Act").
2. The Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
3. Defendant City of Janesville (the "City") is a political
subdivision of the State of Iowa located within the Northern
District of Iowa, Eastern Division.
4. The Janesville City Council is the governing body for
the City of Janesville, which has five elected members. The
Council exercises zoning and land use authority over the land
within the City's boundaries.
5. According to the 2000 Census, the City has a total
population of 829 with two Hispanic residents and no Bosnian or
Eastern European residents. The City of Waterloo, located
approximately ten miles from Janesville, has a population of
68,747 and has 1,806 Hispanic residents and 1,875 Bosnian and
Eastern European residents.
6. Kennith and Cindy Kuhr are a married couple who, between
1998-2000, were seeking to become developers of a manufactured
home community in Iowa.
7. In the Spring of 1998, the Kuhrs secured an option to
purchase two parcels of land, partially within and immediately
outside the City of Janesville boundary, where they planned to
construct "The Arbors," a 116-lot, manufactured home community.
The Kuhrs would, under their plan, continue to own and manage The
Arbors property, while individual manufactured home owners would
locate their homes in the development and pay lot rent to the
8. The proposed 116-lots for manufactured homes at The
Arbors are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
9. The Kuhrs' plan for The Arbors required an amendment to
re-zone the property on which it would stand from Residential and
Agricultural zones to a Planned Residential Development (PRD)
District pursuant to the City's zoning ordinance.
10. The City's Planning and Zoning Commission met three
times to consider the Kuhrs' requested zoning application between
October and December, 1999. The Planning and Zoning Commission
failed to vote on the re-zoning application, and on December 8,
1999, referred the matter to the City Council without
11. In 1999, Melodie Despard, prior to becoming a member of
the City Council, aided in the solicitation of signatures from
property owners whose land was located within 250 feet of the
property for The Arbors. On December 6, 1999, six of these
property owners filed a written protest with the City regarding
the Kuhrs' request for re-zoning. The submission of the
landowners' objection triggered the application of state law
requiring that zoning amendments be passed by a three-fourths,
instead of simple majority, vote of the City Council.
12. Between May 1998 and January 2000, the Janesville City
Council and/or the Janesville Planning and Zoning Commission held
about ten meetings to consider land annexation, the adoption of a
new Planned Residential Development ordinance and the re-zoning
application submitted by the Kuhrs, each necessary prerequisites
for the development of The Arbors.
13. At most, if not all, of the public meetings referred to
in paragraph 10 and 12, above, Janesville area residents attended
and objected to The Arbors proposal because of the national
origin, race and/or color of The Arbors' prospective residents.
14. Melodie Despard attended most, if not all, of the
aforementioned meetings, and publicly objected to The Arbors on
the grounds that it would attract Bosnians, Mexicans and other
ethnic or racial minorities to Janesville.
15. Tracy Meyer attended all but one of the aforementioned
City Council meetings and heard the objections of Janesville area
residents, including Melodie Despard, described in paragraphs 13
and 14 above.
16. The City Council rejected the proposed re-zoning
classification on January 10, 2000, by a vote of two against and
three in favor. Melodie Despard, elected to the City Council in
November, 1999, and Tracy Meyer voted against the re-zoning
17. Because the City denied the proposed re-zoning
application, the Kuhrs were unable to purchase land in Janesville
for a manufactured home development and The Arbors was not
18. The above stated actions of the Defendant have made
dwellings unavailable to persons because of national origin,
race, and/or color in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a).
19. The Defendant's conduct as stated above constitutes a
denial of Fair Housing Act rights to a group of persons, a denial
which raises an issue of general public importance.
20. Kennith and Cindy Kuhr have been injured by Defendant's
discriminatory housing practices and are aggrieved persons as
defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
21. Defendant's conduct was intentional, willful and taken
in reckless disregard of the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter a
1. Declares that the actions of the Defendant described
herein constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act, pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
2. Enjoins the Defendant, its officials, agents, employees,
and all other persons acting in concert or participation with the
Defendant from discriminating on the basis of national origin,
race, or color in violation of the Fair Housing Act, pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(A);
3. Requires the Defendant to take such affirmative steps as
may be necessary to prevent the recurrence of any discriminatory
housing practices in the future and to eliminate the effects of
Defendant's unlawful practices described herein, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(A);
4. Awards monetary relief to Kennith and Cindy Kuhr,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
5. Assesses a civil penalty against the Defendant to
vindicate the public interest, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
The United States further prays for such additional relief
as the interests of justice may require.
CHARLES W. LARSON, SR.
United States Attorney
Northern District of Iowa
STEPHANIE J. WRIGHT
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Northern District of Iowa
P.O. Box 74950
Cedar Rapids, IA 52407-4950
401 First Street, S.E.
Hach Building, Suite 400
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401-1825
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil
KEISHA DAWN BELL
LORI K. WAGNER
Virginia Bar No. 39446
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement
Mailing Address: 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Street Address: 1800 G Street, NW, Ste. 7002
Washington, DC 20006
Document Filed: November 5, 2004