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LARAMORE v. ILLINOIS SPORTS FACILITIES AUTH.

September 8, 1989

DOROTHY LARAMORE and other individual plaintiffs on their own behalf and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, and the SOUTH ARMOUR SQUARE NEIGHBORHOOD COALITION, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE ILLINOIS SPORTS FACILITIES AUTHORITY, THE CITY OF CHICAGO, and THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX, LTD., Defendants


Ilana Diamond Rovner, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROVNER

ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 I. INTRODUCTION

 This lawsuit is brought by residents of areas adjoining the site which was selected for a new stadium for the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Plaintiffs allege that the site was selected, and that their neighborhood is accordingly being destroyed, for racially discriminatory reasons. Pending is defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. For the reasons described below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 II. FACTS

 For the purposes of this motion, the Court accepts as true the allegations of plaintiffs' complaint. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957). Certain factual allegations contained in defendants' memoranda have been used to complete the background discussion, although these allegations are immaterial to resolution of the legal issues.

 On January 20, 1987, the Illinois General Assembly enacted the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority Act ("the Act"), Ill.Rev.Stat. ch.85 § 6001 et seq. The Act was amended on June 30, 1987 and on July 7, 1988. The Act was passed to create the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (the "Authority") and to direct the Authority to build a single stadium for the exclusive use of the Chicago White Sox, Ltd. ("White Sox") in a specific location. (Complaint para. 24.). Section 8(6) of the Act, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch.85 § 6008(6), directs the Authority to determine the location of a new sports facility. Section 12 of the Act, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch.85 § 6012, specifies the parcels of land which the Authority may condemn. The area covered by these parcels is referred to as South Armour Square. (Complaint paras. 24, 47.) The July, 1988 amendments provided the authority necessary to fund construction of the stadium, and the site acquisition process began immediately thereafter. (Defendant's Memorandum in Support ("Mem.") at 2.)

 In order to acquire the site, the Authority found it necessary to displace over 425 black residents of South Armour Square from their residences. (Complaint para. 4.) In the summer of 1988, the Authority began negotiating with the homeowners and tenants who lived on the site. (Mem. at 2-3.) Plaintiffs allege that the Authority used high-pressure tactics in these negotiations. (Complaint paras. 44(e), 54.) By September 15, 1988, the Authority had reached a settlement with these residents, pursuant to which the Authority agreed to build new homes for homeowners or pay them fair market value plus a $ 25,000 bonus, and to pay relocation costs for tenants and give a cash settlement to long-term tenants. (Mem. at 3.) The Authority benefitted from the settlement by avoiding the necessity of condemnation proceedings and by obtaining a covenant not to sue from the South Armour Square Coalition ("Coalition"), which participated in the negotiations with the Authority and which at that time represented both homeowners who were to be relocated and tenants in the neighboring housing that would remain. (Mem. at 3.)

 On or about October 14, 1988, the Authority filed an application with the City for an amendment to the City's zoning ordinance. (Complaint para. 61.) The application sought a waiver of "virtually every limitation which applied to every other development in the City," including limitations concerning light, heat, noise, smoke, toxic discharge, noxious odors, fire, and explosive materials. (Id.) In early November, 1988, without providing meaningful notice to neighboring residents, the Chicago Plan Commission held a "purported" public hearing. (Complaint para. 62.) At plaintiffs' insistence, a further hearing was held on November 30. During a final hearing on December 8, despite the belief of many members that the Authority had failed to satisfy concerns about negative effects on plaintiffs, the Plan Commission voted to recommend approval of the application by the City Council, with the suggestion that the City Council require the Authority to address these concerns before the issuance of a building permit. (Complaint para. 63.)

 The next day, without any meaningful notice to plaintiffs, the Chicago City Council's Committee on Zoning voted to approve the requested zoning amendment. The City Council enacted an amendment substantially identical to the one sought by the Authority on December 21, 1988. (Complaint paras. 64-65.)

 The plaintiffs in this case are:

 
(1) the "class plaintiffs," including (a) individual black persons who live in Wentworth Gardens, a low-rise development adjacent to the stadium site which is operated by the Chicago Housing Authority and the rents of which are federally regulated, (b) individual black persons who live in T.E. Brown Apartments, a federally regulated eleven-story apartment building adjacent to the stadium site, and (c) an alleged class of all persons who live in or have lived in Wentworth Gardens or T.E. Brown Apartments since January, 1987 and who have been harmed or are in danger of being harmed by defendants' allegedly racially discriminatory practices;
 
(2) the Coalition, a not-for-profit corporation the members of which are residents of Wentworth Gardens and T.E. Brown Apartments, and the goals of which include the preservation of the South Armour Square neighborhood; and
 
(3) the "Bridgeport plaintiffs," consisting of individual residents, apparently white, who live in the neighborhoods of Bridgeport and Fuller Park near the stadium site.

 (Complaint paras. 13-21, 30-32.)

 Defendants are the Authority, the White Sox, and the City of Chicago.

 Plaintiffs allege that the selection of the stadium site was based on discriminatory motives -- that South Armour Square was selected because its residents were almost exclusively black. (Complaint, paras. 3, 44, 45.) Plaintiffs allege that the private homes were essential to the stability of their neighborhood, and that the destruction of these homes and the selection of South Armour Square as the stadium site has caused or will cause them numerous injuries which will make it impossible for them to continue to live in their neighborhood. These injuries include:

 
(a) Residents of T.E. Brown Apartments and Wentworth Gardens will be subjected to noise, intense lights, and limited access to their residences, their physical security will be jeopardized by strangers, emergency vehicles will have difficulty gaining access to the premises, and a high wall will be constructed which will further segregate and isolate them;
 
(b) Residents of Wentworth Gardens will lose substantial access to their residences for their own vehicles, will lose access to shopping and other commercial opportunities, and will lose a substantial portion of the neighborhood of which they have historically been a part;
 
(c) the Bridgeport plaintiffs are in danger of being forced from their homes as the construction of the stadium attracts developers whose purchasing and marketing of homes in their neighborhoods will cause a rise in rental and property tax rates;
 
(d) plaintiffs' children who attend the Abbott Grammar School near the stadium will be subjected to the noise and harassment of the sporting events which will occur at the stadium and will be endangered by the presence of strangers;
 
(e) several businesses in the area have been destroyed, with a concomitant loss of employment opportunities, and many other businesses will be forced to move;
 
(f) South Armour Square residents will be further isolated from the residents and neighborhood ...

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