SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 00-331-DRH
CITY OF FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS,
- This action is brought by the United States of America to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. It is brought pursuant to sections 814(a) and 814(b)(1)(A) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3614(a) and 3614(b)(1)(A).
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a), and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(b).
- Defendant, the City of Fairview Heights, Illinois, is a municipality of the State of Illinois, located within the Southern District of Illinois.
- Defendant City of Fairview Heights exercises zoning and land use authority over the land within its perimeters. Defendant City of Fairview Heights has enacted and enforces the Fairview Heights Zoning Ordinances, § 14 of the Ordinances of Fairview Heights. Among its regular duties are to approve or reject applications to build residential developments within the city limits.
- According to the 1990 Census, the City of Fairview Heights has a population of 14,351, of whom only 1158 or 8.1% are African-American.
- Complainant T.R. Forte Investments, Inc., is a real estate development and investment company based in DeSoto, Texas, and run by complainant Rodney L. Forte. Forte is African-American.
- In partnership with The Lasker Construction Company, a construction firm based in Conway, Arkansas, Forte developed a plan to build The Villas at Lake Chester ("The Villas"), a 154-unit luxury apartment complex in Fairview Heights. The Villas were to be sited on 26.5 acres of undeveloped land in Fairview Heights zoned for multifamily housing. The owner of the Lasker Construction Company, Greg Lasker, is also African-American.
- Pursuant to the development plans, an appraiser and a real estate agent retained by Forte met with city officials in the spring and summer of 1998 and discussed the proposed project. Both the appraiser, Lee Hill, and the real estate agent, Chiquita Kimari, are African-American.
- On October 9, 1998, Forte filed with the proper city office an application for a permit to build the Villas project, along with all necessary documentation.
- In November and December of 1998, several public hearings were held to consider Forte's application. These hearings were held before the city's Planning Commission, Planning Committee, and City Council. Forte, Lasker, and Kimari attended these meetings, and Forte made presentations at each outlining the proposal. At the end of each hearing, the relevant municipal body voted to reject Forte's application. On December 1, 1998, the City Council adopted the recommendations of the Planning Commission and Planning Committee by passing Resolution No. 2560-'98, which the Mayor approved on December 2, 1998.
- Forte's application and the Villas proposal met all requirements set forth in the applicable city ordinances.
- The various public hearings on the Villas proposal were well attended by the public, almost all of whom were opposed to the development project. Many local residents expressed concerns that the apartment complex would be filled with tenants using HUD "Section 8" vouchers or other forms of government rent subsidies. City residents continued to voice these concerns even after Forte assured them that he would not accept rent subsidies.
- Major reasons cited by the city for rejecting the development were the expected impact on traffic and school services. Prior to the time of its decision, the city received letters from local school and road officials indicating that the expected impact on roads and schools would not be severe. In addition, the city had approved an even larger residential development for the same site in 1985 which was estimated to have a much greater impact on schools and roads.
- The Villas complex would likely have brought a significant number of African-Americans into Fairview Heights. Apartment complexes generally, as compared to single family homes in Fairview Heights and surrounding areas, have a larger percentage of African American residents.
- The opposition to the Villas development was in significant part racial in nature. All of the principals involved in promoting the Villas development are African-American. In voting against the Villas proposal, the City of Fairview Heights acted out of fears that African-Americans would move into the development, and/or to appease citizens who had similar fears.
- The opposition to the Villas development was also based in significant part on a desire to exclude and/or limit the numbers of families with children. In voting against the Villas proposal, the City of Fairview Heights acted out of fears that families with children would move into the development, and/or to appease citizens who had similar fears.
- On February 3, 1999, Forte filed with the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") a complaint of housing discrimination. An amended complaint was later filed on April 14, 1999. Complainant Forte's complaint alleges that Fairview Heights' denial of his application to build the Villas constituted discrimination based upon race in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Secretary of HUD has determined that the complaint involves the legality of state or local zoning or other land use laws or ordinances. Accordingly, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g), the Secretary has referred the matter to the Attorney General for appropriate action.
- The Attorney General is authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(b)(1)(A) to bring this action upon referral by the Secretary of HUD.
- In denying approval for the Villas development, the city of Fairview Heights made housing unavailable on the basis of race and familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a). The city's actions had, and were intended to have, a disparate impact upon African-American residents of Fairview Heights and the surrounding area, and perpetuated existing patterns of racial segregation in housing.
- There are persons, including complainant Forte, who are victims of Defendant's discriminatory practices as described above and are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). These persons have suffered, or may have suffered, damages as a result of Defendant's discriminatory conduct.
- Defendant's conduct has been intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of others.
- Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-21 above.
- The conduct of Defendant described in paragraphs 1-21, above, constitutes a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the court enter a JUDGMENT that:
- Declares that the actions of Defendant described herein constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act;
- Enjoins Defendant, its officials, agents, and employees, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from continuing to discriminate on the basis of race or familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619;
- Requires such actions by Defendant as may be necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by Defendant's discriminatory housing practices to the position they would have occupied but for Defendant's discriminatory conduct, including, but not limited to, granting approval for the proposed Villas development;
- Awards such damages as would fully compensate each person aggrieved by Defendant's discriminatory housing practices for the injuries that they have suffered as a result of Defendant's discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
- Assesses a civil penalty against Defendant in an amount of money authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
|W. CHARLES GRACE |
United States Attorney
|JOHN D. ASHCROFT |
JAMES M. HIPKISS
Assistant United States Attorney
9 Executive Drive, Suite 300
Fairview Heights, IL 62208
FAX: (618) 628-3720
WILLIAM R. YEOMANS
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
|TIMOTHY J. MORAN |
RICHARD A. KOFFMAN
KEVIN J. KIJEWSKI
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
FAX: (202) 514-1116
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