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Clark v. County of Winnebago

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT


decided: April 20, 1987.

JAMES D. CLARK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OF WINNEBAGO, A BODY POLITIC DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division. No. 83-C-20155 - Stanley J. Roszkowski, Judge.

Flaum and Easterbrook, Circuit Judges, and Swygert, Senior Circuit Judge.

Author: Swygert

SWYGERT, Senior Circuit Judge.

The plaintiff, James D. Clark, brought an action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and the fourteenth amendment against the County of Winnebago, Illinois (the County), alleging that the denial of his request to rezone his property as a mobile home district violated his right to due process. He also challenged the constitutionality of those portions of the County's zoning ordinance regulating mobile homes. The district court entered judgment for the County. We affirm.

I

The County has adopted a zoning ordinance that regulates the uses of land within the County. The ordinance establishes the zoning classification of "Mobile Home District" as a separate district and provides that, with limited exceptions, mobile homes may not be located outside a mobile home district.*fn1 It additionally sets forth certain performance standards for mobile home parks located within such a district.

The County also has adopted a comprehensive land use plan, known as the Year 2000 Plan, to provide for the orderly development of the County. The Plan identifies Clark's property and the surrounding area as "low density residential," which calls for a density of two to seven dwelling units per acre.

Clark's property is currently zoned as an agricultural district. The surrounding property, which has undergone very little development, is zoned agricultural and rural residential. The predominant use in the surrounding area is single family residential, with residences located on lots ranging in size from 12,000 to 45,000 square feet. The density in the vicinity is approximately one to three dwelling units per acre.

In 1983, Clark sought to have a portion of his property rezoned as a mobile home district so that he could place a mobile home park on the property. The section of the zoning ordinance governing mobile home parks allows a minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet,*fn2 resulting in a density of slightly over six units per acre when open space and road requirements are taken into account. Clark also filed a petition to have another portion of his property zoned "R-1 One-Family Residential District," which provides for a minimum lot size of 6,600 square feet.*fn3 After a public hearing, the County Board granted the petition requesting rezoning to "R-1 District" but denied the petition requesting rezoning to "Mobile Home District."

Clark subsequently brought an action for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief against the County, challenging on due process grounds the denial of his zoning request as well as the ordinance's disparate treatment of mobile homes and site-built homes. After a trial on the merits, the district court concluded that neither the ordinance nor the zoning decision was so irrational or unrelated to the general welfare as to implicate the fourteenth amendment. Clark appeals.

II

Clark contends that the County zoning ordinance regulating mobile homes is facially unconstitutional because it arbitrarily discriminates between site-built homes and mobile homes. According to Clark, in light of recent technological advances in the mobile home industry, the County has no legitimate governmental interest in distinguishing between mobile homes and conventional homes or between mobile home parks and other residential subdivisions.

It is well-established that, as an exercise of the police power, a zoning ordinance is presumed to be constitutionally valid. See Goldblatt v. Town of Hempstead, 369 U.S. 590, 596, 8 L. Ed. 2d 130, 82 S. Ct. 987 (1962). The party attacking the ordinance bears the heavy burden of showing that the ordinance is clearly arbitrary and unreasonable, having no substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare. Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, 395, 71 L. Ed. 303, 47 S. Ct. 114 (1926); Albery v. Reddig, 718 F.2d 245, 251 (7th Cir. 1983). The ordinance will be upheld if any facts either known or reasonably assumed will support it. Goldblatt, 369 U.S. at 596.

We agree with the district court that Clark failed to establish that the ordinance is clearly unrelated to a legitimate governmental interest. Mobile home parks are a sufficiently distinct use of land to justify their separate classification for zoning purposes. For instance, mobile home parks, with their smaller lot sizes, affect population density, and the County unquestionably has a right to control the orderly development of the community by regulating density. The County's decision to regulate the location of individual mobile homes*fn4 is similarly supported by the differences between mobile homes and site-built homes. There was testimony at trial that, despite advances in the mobile home industry, distinctions between mobile homes and site-built homes still exist with respect to design, construction, and general appearance.*fn5 While some mobile homes may compare favorably with conventional homes, zoning classifications necessarily require that generalizations be made. Mathematical certainty is not required for the ordinance to pass constitutional muster, so long as there is a reasonable basis for the classification chosen. See Euclid, 272 U.S. at 388-89. In light of these principles, we cannot say that the restriction on the placement of mobile homes is so arbitrary that it violates due process.

Clark additionally challenges the ordinance as applied to him. He claims that the denial of his request to rezone his property as a mobile home district was arbitrary and therefore deprived him of his right to due process. Once again, however, we conclude that Clark has failed to overcome the presumption of validity to which the zoning decision is entitled. The County could have rationally concluded that the density of the mobile home park would have been incompatible with the surrounding vicinity. The Year 2000 Plan called for a density of two to seven units per acre, but a mobile home park would fall within the upper end of the scale, while the existing density of the area falls within the lower end. In fact, there was testimony at trial that Clark's property was not suitable for a mobile home park for this reason.*fn6 Although several witnesses testified that a mobile home park would be compatible with the surrounding area, as long as there is room for disagreement, the local zoning decision must control. See Euclid, 292 U.S. at 388.

For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the district court is affirmed.


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