IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
THE CITY OF JANESVILLE, IOWACOMPLAINT
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 Kuhrs monthly.
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 recommendation.
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 request.
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 constructed.
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 JUDGMENT that:
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. § 3614(d)(1)(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
| JOHN ASHCROFT|
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 > >