Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

No. 99C 4461

CITY OF CHICAGO HEIGHTS,
     Defendant.

__________________________________

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

This Settlement Agreement (the "Agreement") is being entered into between the United States, and the City of Chicago Heights ("City").

WHEREAS, the United States initiated the above-captioned Fair Housing Act case on July 7, 1999, on behalf of Thresholds, alleging that the City violated the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19 ("the FHAA");

WHEREAS, under the City's Zoning Code as it existed prior to December 21, 1998, a "family community residence," ("group home") was defined as: "A single dwelling unit occupied on a relative permanent basis in a family-like environment by a group of no more than eight (8) unrelated persons with disabilities, plus paid professional support staff provided by a sponsoring agency, either living with the resident on a twenty-four hour basis, or present whenever residents with disabilities are present at the dwelling; and complies with the zoning regulations for the district in which the site is located."

WHEREAS, under the City's Zoning Code as it existed prior to December 21, 1998, a "group home" was required to meet two requirements to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, one of which was that the group home be "located at least one thousand (1000) feet from any existing [group home], as measured from lot line to lot line, except when a special use permit is issued to allow a [group home] to locate closer than one thousand (1,000) feet to an existing [group home]."

WHEREAS, the United States' Complaint alleged that the City violated the FHAA by failing to reasonably accommodate Thresholds by granting it a special use permit which would have allowed it to operate its proposed group home less than 1,000 feet away from an existing group home;

WHEREAS, the United States' Complaint also alleged that the City violated the FHAA by unlawfully amending its Zoning Code on December 21, 1998, to add facially unlawful group home provisions and further to add restrictions that would make it more difficult for group homes to locate in Chicago Heights than it was under the prior Zoning Code;

WHEREAS, the City denied the allegations of the Complaint and filed a motion for summary judgment contending that it did not violate the FHAA in denying Thresholds's special use permit application, that it attempted to reasonably accommodate Thresholds, that the 1998 amendments to the Zoning Ordinance did not discriminate against group homes and that the 1998 amendments were not enacted with any discriminatory intent;

WHEREAS, the United States filed a motion for summary judgment contending that the City violated the FHAA by failing to reasonably accommodate Thresholds by granting it a special use permit and by enacting certain facially discriminatory provisions in its 1998 Zoning Ordinance relating to group homes;

WHEREAS, the Honorable James F. Holderman, granted summary judgment in favor of the United States, finding that the City failed to reasonably accommodate Thresholds by granting it a special use permit and that certain provisions of the City's 1998 Zoning Ordinance relating to group homes were facially discriminatory;

WHEREAS, Judge Holderman denied the City's cross-motion for summary judgement in its entirety;

WHEREAS, both the City and the United States entered into settlement discussions to avoid having to go to trial on the remaining issue of damages and whether the City intentionally enacted more restrictive provisions in its 1998 Zoning Code relating to group homes;

WHEREAS, the United States and the City deem it in their best interest to fully and finally settle, compromise and resolve all matters and issues in controversy between them relating to the subject matter of the Complaint and litigation and fully and forever dismiss the Complaint with prejudice;

WHEREAS, the United States suggested that if the City amended the 1998 Zoning Code to remove the 1998 provisions regarding group homes and revert back to the group home provisions of the 1972 Zoning Ordinance, as amended, in their entirety, that action would resolve by making moot the United States' claim that the City intentionally enacted group home provisions in its 1998 Zoning Ordinance that made it more difficult for group homes to locate in the City than it was under the 1972 Zoning Ordinance, as amended;

WHEREAS, on May 24, 2001, Judge Holderman dismissed the United States' Complaint with prejudice with leave to reinstate on or before August 21, 2001on the basis that the parties had reached agreement on damages, and that the City had agreed in principle to reenact the group home provisions of the 1972 Zoning Code, as amended;

WHEREAS, on August 6, 2001 the City enacted Ordinance No. 01-37, which though not reenacting in their entirety the group home provisions of the 1972 Zoning Code, as amended, made a number of changes which resolved the remaining claims raised in the United States' complaint;

WHEREAS, the City has agreed that the new provision excluding from the definition of family community residences, "residences which service persons . . . with drug and alcohol-related problems," shall be interpreted consistent with Section 802(h)(3) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h)(3), which applies to "current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance."

THEREFORE, it is agreed as follows by the parties:

  1. Within ten (10) days of the date of receipt of the attached Release by the Attorney for the City, the City shall pay the total sum of $122,878.00 to Thresholds in the form of a certified or cashier's check payable to The Thresholds, Inc. The aforesaid check shall be sent to the Office of the United States Attorney, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, Attention: Assistant United States Attorney Joan Laser.
  2. On August 6, 2001, the City amended its 1998 Zoning Code by enacting Ordinance 01-37 as described above;
  3. In consideration of the payment that will be made by the City to Thresholds, and the amendments that the City made to its 1998 Zoning Code, Thresholds and the United States agree not to sue and agree not to assert or pursue any appeals, claims or causes of action with respect to the subject matter of this lawsuit against the City, its elected officials, officers, agents, employees, officers, heirs, successors or assigns.
  4. In consideration of Thresholds' execution of the Release and the United States' voluntary dismissal of this suit, the City agrees not to sue and agrees not to assert or pursue any appeals, claims or causes of action with respect or related to the subject matter of this lawsuit against Thresholds, its agents, employees, officers, heirs, successors or assigns or against the United States.
  5. By entering into this agreement, the City does not admit to any fault, liability or wrongdoing by the City or any of its officers, agents or employees and that the City, its officers, elected officials, agents and employees continue to express that they deny any fault, liability or wrongdoing in connection with the claims of the Unites States.
  6. This Agreement shall be executed in counterparts, each of which is deemed to be an executed original even if all signatures do not appear on the same counterpart. Facsimile copies and photo copies of this Agreement will have the same force and effect as an original.
  7. It is the intent of the City and the United States that this Agreement and the Release and only this Agreement and Release contain all of the terms and conditions agreed upon to by the City, the United States and Thresholds and that no provisions may be altered, modified, or terminated except upon the written consent of the parties.

Agreed to by the parties as indicated by their signatures and the signatures of Counsel below:


For the City of Chicago Heights:


JAMES VLAHAKIS
Hinshaw & Culbertson
222 North LaSalle Suite 300
Chicago, Illinois 60601
For the United States


SCOTT R. LASSAR
United States Attorney
By:   JOAN LASER
MARIA SIMON
Assistant United States Attorneys
219 South Dearborn
Chicago, Illinois 60604 ISABELLE THABAULT
Deputy Chief
THOMAS J. KEARY
RICHARD A. KOFFMAN
Trial Attorneys
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section



RELEASE

In consideration for the parties' agreement to the terms of the Settlement Agreement entered in United States v. City of Chicago Heights, Civil Action No. 99 C 4461(N.D. Il.), and the City's payment to Thresholds of one hundred twenty-two thousand, eight hundred seventy-eight dollars and no cents ($122,878.00), Thresholds, hereby agrees to the following:

  1. Thresholds hereby acknowledges and expressly waives and assumes the risk for any and all claims for damages which exist as of this date but of which it does not now know or suspect to exist against the City or any of its officers, agents or employees, whether through ignorance, oversight, negligence, or otherwise, arising from or related to in any manner the incidents and causes of action complained of in the litigation referenced above, or in any way related to the claims of the United States in this action.
  2. Thresholds represents and warrants that no other person or entity has any interest in its current and former claims, demands, obligations or causes of action referred to in this Release except as otherwise set forth herein, and that it has right and exclusive authority to execute this Release and received this sum specified and that it has not sold, assigned, transferred, conveyed or otherwise disposed of any claims, demands, obligations or causes of action referred to in this Release.
  3. Thresholds acknowledges and agrees that in entering into this Release, it has relied upon the legal advise of counsel and that the terms of this Release have been completely read and explained to it by counsel and that the terms of this Release fully understood and accepted by it.
  4. This Settlement Agreement is intended to be a full and complete settlement of any and all claims any party or Thresholds may have against any other party with respect to the subject matter of this lawsuit.
  5. Thresholds waives any claims it may have against the United States arising out of this action.
  6. This Release shall be construed and interpreted in accordance with the law of the state of Illinois. Facsimile copies and photo copies of this Release will have the same force and effect as an original.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed this ____ day of _____________,_____.

JERRY DINCIN
Executive Director
The Thresholds, Inc.
4101 North Ravenswood
Chicago, Illinois 60613


Document Filed: August 21, 2001. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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